Is the Pope a Catholic?
In light of the recent “unexcommunication” of the Society of St. Pius X bishops, which appears to be a landmark development, I took a step back to see what this all might mean in context.
For example, it’s reported that the Pope does not consider Martin Luther to have been justly excommunicated. Yet on all accounts of history it’s clear that he was obstinately in error and was undoubtedly an heretic. An abrogation of Luther’s excommunication would be spurious to say the least. On the other hand, it is quite clear that the Society of St. Pius X bishops (as irritating as they may be to the Vatican) were unjustly excommunicated as the circumstances surrounding the event were politically charged and due process was not followed.
There would have been nothing all that exciting about describing Pope John Paul II’s questionable faith and probable heresy, or to harp on about his political decisions. It’s all over now anyway and he is now headed for the Judgement as the rest of us will be. We should keep praying for him.
But is Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, guilty of public heresy? A quick “Google” of this question yields some very interesting points. The relevant parts of the Creed and other infallible texts are quoted to highlight Ratzinger’s problems:
“I believe in the resurrection of the body” – Apostles Creed
Ratzinger writes in his Introduction to Christianity:
It now becomes clear that the real heart of faith in the resurrection does not consist at all in the idea of the restoration of bodies, to which we have reduced it in our thinking; such is the case even though this is the pictorial image used throughout the Bible.
I remember my grandmother telling me how Catholics don’t get cremated because it’s a sin against the Faith. Does this mean that the funeral pyre of the pagans is actually compatible with Christian burial? The Pope argued that all references to a resurrection of the body or flesh (carnis resurrectionem) are not meant literally. Well frankly, why on earth did they use such clear wording they didn’t mean it?
As for how God will go about resurrecting a corrupted corpse is beyond me. Explaining it is not my job. However to reject this core principle of the Christian Faith is not the Pope’s job either.
Council of Trent, Canon 4:
The Council declares:
“If anyone says that after the consecration is complete the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are not in the sacrament of the Eucharist and in the consecrated hosts or particles which are reserved (in the tabernacle) the true body and blood of our Lord remain not, let him be anathema.”
Yet the Pope is quoted as having said:
“Eucharistic devotion such as is noted in the silent visit by the devout in church must not be thought of as a conversation with God. This would assume that God was present there locally and in a confined way. To justify such an assertion shows a lack of understanding of the Christological mysteries of the very concept of God. This is repugnant to the serious thinking of the man who knows about the omnipresence of God. To go to church on the ground that one can visit God who is present there is a senseless act which modern man rightfully rejects” – Die Sacramentale Begrundung Christliche Existenz
Well, mister modern Pope, tell that to my late grandmother! I distinctly remember being taught that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, in a way that he is not present, for example, in my cup of coffee. It’s a mystery of Faith, of course, so don’t ask me to explain that either. But why is this guy rabbiting on like a modernist heretic?
“It is not licit for the faithful to actively assist at or participate in ceremonies of non-Catholics” – Code of Canon Law (1917), Canon 1258
In the footsteps of his predecessor, the Pope prayed in a mosque in November 2006. Well, perhaps he wasn’t “praying”, but what was he doing in a place of idolatry, receiving instruction on Muslim prayer and then facing Mecca with the mufti? Okay, muslims out there will of course not see this as idolatry (that’s not the point), but going back to my dear old grandmother, we were forbidden to set foot in a Protestant place of worship, let alone one belonging to an entirely different religion!
There is, of course, much more that the current Pope has done that is scandalous in the least (such as his dealings with the paedophile scandals), but as it is with blogs, they are done in one’s spare time and I’ve run out of that today.
What is clear to me is that our Benedict, whilst not the absolute disaster of a Pope that his immediate predecessor was, is still a far cry from Orthodoxy or Orthopraxis. He doesn’t even seem to give a damn (indifferentism) that the world sees him in scandalous circumstances. Whereas John Paul II, at the gates of St. Peter, may well argue that he had lost his marbles, Joseph Ratzinger is not insane. His speeches and writings are still those of an eloquent, highly educated man.
So is the Pope a Catholic? Is he obstinate in error? I suspect that, like many of his peers, Benedict XVI is yet another political animal, a master of Romanita. This places him on par with a real estate agent on trustworthiness. Indeed I would be very wary to an open embrace (physical or otherwise) from such a man.