Pope Benedict XVI has reasserted the universal primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released Tuesday that says Orthodox churches were defective and that other Christian denominations were not true churches.
Benedict approved a document from his old offices at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that restates church teaching on relations with other Christians. It was the second time in a week the pope has corrected what he says are erroneous interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that modernized the church.
On Saturday, Benedict revisited another key aspect of Vatican II by reviving the old Latin Mass. Traditional Catholics cheered the move, but more liberal ones called it a step back from Vatican II.
Benedict, who attended Vatican II as a young theologian, has long complained about what he considers the erroneous interpretation of the council by liberals, saying it was not a break from the past but rather a renewal of church tradition.
This is why I am not a Catholic, and in fact is the source of all my trouble with Christianity as currently constituted. Telling people they will never be “truly saved” unless they join your cult is not only cruel, it’s a lie. The only thing we need saving from is our own stupidity, and the only way to do that is to use our heads. In fact, one of Vatican II’s own documents says pretty much that. How could Pope Ratzi miss this?
9. We must get to know the outlook of our separated brethren. To achieve this purpose, study is of necessity required, and this must be pursued with a sense of realism and good will. Catholics, who already have a proper grounding, need to acquire a more adequate understanding of the respective doctrines of our separated brethren, their history, their spiritual and liturgical life, their religious psychology and general background. Most valuable for this purpose are meetings of the two sides–especially for discussion of theological problems–where each can treat with the other on an equal footing–provided that those who take part in them are truly competent and have the approval of the bishops. From such dialogue will emerge still more clearly what the situation of the Catholic Church really is. In this way too the outlook of our separated brethren will be better understood, and our own belief more aptly explained.
10. Sacred theology and other branches of knowledge, especially of an historical nature, must be taught with due regard for the ecumenical point of view, so that they may correspond more exactly with the facts.
It is most important that future shepherds and priests should have mastered a theology that has been carefully worked out in this way and not polemically, especially with regard to those aspects which concern the relations of separated brethren with the Catholic Church.
That last paragraph is particularly noteworthy. Funny how Ratzi missed it, or rather, is blatantly ignoring it. What is there NOT polemical about saying, in effect, “You are not real Christians. You won’t be saved unless you come back to Rome, bow down and kiss my hem”?
The sad irony of it is, the Church went down this road LONG before Vatican II. In fact, the very first of the “separated brethren”, Martin Luther, never intended to organize a separate church, but to correct the glaring errors he saw in the Church of his day from within it. He nailed 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg Cathedral in the year 1517 CE, thinking to spur a debate and, ultimately, reform of what was undoubtedly a greedy, corrupted, labyrinthine church. He was lucky to get a hearing rather than a beheading for his pains, but the outcome was never in doubt: the Church wanted him to take it all back. And that was not Luther’s intent. “I cannot and will not recant,” he said.
The rest is history.
Meanwhile, it’s clear to me that Ratzi would like to drag the world back to where it was right before Luther opened his yap. Namely, the ass-end of the Middle Ages, in which no one was permitted to question the Official Version and get away with his skin intact. And if that’s not a big mistake, think of how riddled with errors the Church of the day was. Galileo proved this so conclusively that even today, traditionalists are still spinning their wheels trying to prove that the church was right after all. (And yes, Ratzi too is grinding his gears over that.)
The Official Ratzinger Version of Everything (TM) also contains such laughable lapses as this:
On May 13, while speaking to Latin American and Caribbean bishops, the pope demonstrated an amazing ignorance of the history of the violent cultural and religious oppression of indigenous peoples in the New World by European Christians. Benedict stated that the native people had been “silently longing” for Christ and were seeking God “without realizing it.” He said that their conversion was not a conquest but an “adoption” that made “their cultures fruitful, purifying them…. “
Benedict further demonstrated his misunderstanding of the “civilization” and massacres of natives in North, Central and South America when he stated that the church had not imposed itself on indigenous peoples, that Christianity had not been detrimental to their way of life.
“In effect,” he said, “the proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbus cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture.”
Funny, the indigenous peoples of Latin America sure don’t feel that way. Evo Morales, a full-blooded native, doesn’t agree. Neither does Chavecito, who is part “Indian” and all proud of it. And of course, let’s not forget those who had to endure this indignity on their own turf–the Brazilian Indios.
In fact, a good hard look at the Vatican’s history itself contradicts Ratzi’s wishful-thinking version:
Religious institutions have excused, aided and abetted crimes throughout history. Indeed, the church has much to atone for. There are three bulls (edicts, or executive orders, if you will) issued by the Papacy with which we should concern ourselves. The Dum Diversas, issued by Pope Nicholas V in 1452, authorized King Alfonso V of Portugal to reduce any “Saracens (Muslims) and pagans and any other unbelievers” to perpetual slavery, thereby ushering in the West African slave trade.
The Romanus Pontifex, also issued by Pope Nicholas V in 1455, sanctioned the seizure of non-Christian lands, and encouraged the enslavement of non-Christian people in Africa and the Americas. Specifically, it gave the green light to “invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed,” all for profit, and in the name of Jesus Christ.
The Inter Caetera, signed by Pope Alexander VI in 1493, states, “… we (the Papacy) command you (Spain) … to instruct the aforesaid inhabitants and residents and dwellers therein in the Catholic faith, and train them in good morals.” This papal law sanctioned and paved the way for European colonization and Catholic missions in the New World.
These three edicts opened the floodgates for everything that followed, the raping, pillaging, kidnapping, genocide and enslavement of millions. They established the groundwork for the global slave trade of the 15th and 16th centuries, and the Age of Imperialism.
If the Pope could get such basic theological history wrong, one wonders what other highly, er, unique i
nterpretations of historical Vatican documents he has up his expensively tailored sleeves.
And it’s not just indigenous peoples who’ve suffered the slings and arrows of Pope Ratzi’s outrageous blundering:
In his speech at Regensburg University, the German-born Pope explored the historical and philosophical differences between Islam and Christianity, and the relationship between violence and faith.
Stressing that they were not his own words, he quoted Emperor Manuel II Paleologos of the Byzantine Empire, the Orthodox Christian empire which had its capital in what is now the Turkish city of Istanbul.
The emperor’s words were, he said: “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
Benedict said “I quote” twice to stress the words were not his and added that violence was “incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul”.
“The intention here is not one of retrenchment or negative criticism, but of broadening our concept of reason and its application,” he added in the concluding part of his speech.
“Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today.”
Dialogue, eh? As I see it, Pope John XXIII strove to open the door for reform, modernization and honest dialogue; Ratzi has never missed an opportunity to slam it shut, despite all his protestations to the contrary. If you doubt me, get a load of what he did as grand inquisitor.
His record includes:
•Theologians disciplined, such as Fr. Charles Curran, an American moral theologian who advocates a right to public dissent from official church teaching; Fr. Matthew Fox, an American known for his work on creation spirituality; Sr. Ivone Gebara, a Brazilian whose thinking blends liberation theology with environmental concerns; and Fr. Tissa Balasuriya, a Sri Lankan interested in how Christianity can be expressed through Eastern concepts;
•Movements blocked, such as liberation theology and, more recently, religious pluralism (the drive to affirm other religions on their own terms);
•Progressive bishops hobbled, including Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle, reproached by Rome for his tolerance of ministry to homosexuals and his involvement in progressive political causes, and Bishop Dom Pedro Casaldáliga of Sao Félix, Brazil, criticized for his political engagement beyond the borders of his own diocese;
•Episcopal conferences brought to heel on issues such as inclusive language and their own teaching authority;
•The borders of infallibility expanded, to include such disparate points as the ban on women’s ordination and the invalidity of ordinations in the Anglican church.
That last one really gets my goat. Since when is any man infallible, least of all one who so blatantly insists on perpetuating old fallacies that were debunked–one should have thought–long ago? And what gives him the right to declare himself infallible when his own fallibility keeps popping so inconveniently to the fore?
The best road to progress, if Ratzi is really serious about it as he claims to be, is not to step back (with the possible exception of revoking Pius IX’s dreadful doctrine of infallibility, the one step backward I’d be in wholehearted agreement with.) It is to accept that Vatican II was, like it or not, a call to move forward.
And yes, Ratzi, that means using your feet for something other than inserting into your mouth–or for filling those extravagant ruby slippers from Prada.