Rorate Caeli

Papal Heresies

Benedict XVI. Formerly held in suspicion by the Holy Office. Former professor of Dogmatic Theology at the notoriously liberal Tubingen University. Former member of the elitist group of periti who served as advisors at the Second Vatican Council. What are we to make of the man?

Some have already decided, and indeed, decided from the moment he was elected: he was a heretic, he still is a heretic, and as long as he continues to be a heretic he cannot be pope. Of course, demonstrating this about Ratzinger should not at all be difficult - he's published hundreds of articles and books in several different languages since he was a priest and professor of theology. And indeed some have attempted to do just this.

In Pope or Heretic? An Evaluation of Benedict XVI, several statements of the Holy Father, whether uttered before of after his election, are considered and analyzed.

While the pope hardly stands in need of my defense, I find that I must take the opportunity to answer some of the rhetorically-posed questions concerning Benedict XVI's orthodoxy. Increasingly I have been receiving emails from readers of this site, providing quotes from Benedict XVI (whether as pope or as Cardinal Ratzinger) that are intended to prove his heterodoxy. I have yet to see a quote that wasn't ripped from its context, squeezed through the filter of deep suspicion, interpreted in the worst possible light, and isolated from other statements within the body of Benedict XVI's work.

Perhaps most representative of this phenomenon is the quote being bandied about the Internet concerning what Father Ratzinger said with regard to Eucharistic Adoration. The quote, in part, reads as follows:

Eucharistic adoration or quiet visiting in church can, reasonably, not simply be thought of as conversation with the God who is thought present in a locally-circumscriptive manner. Statements such as "God lives here" and conversation with the locally-thought God based on such [thinking] express a mistake [misjudgment] of the Christological event as well as the idea of God, which necessarily repels the thinking man who knows about the omnipresence of God. If one were to justify going to church on the grounds that one must visit the God who is only present there, this would indeed be a justification which would make no sense and would rightfully be rejected by modern man. (Ratzinger, Die sakramentale Begründung christlicher Existenz, p. 26, source)

Of course, it has been claimed and will continue to be claimed that Ratzinger is here rejecting the practice of Eucharistic Adoration, and by extension, repudiating the dogma of transubstantiation. But anyone who is more than superficially familiar with his work knows exactly what he is saying here: he speaks of something very similar to this false way of thinking in Introduction to Christianity, when he discusses how pagan religions build shrines and then superstitiously believe that they can only worship their gods at those places. The key ideas in the above quote are expressed in such phrases as "locally-circumscriptive [lokal zirkumskriptiv]" and "one must visit the God who is only [nur] present there." For those who may be a bit unsure of the meaning of "locally-circumscriptive," it means "to restrict to a particular location." In other words, it is false to think of God as being present in the Church in a way that would restrict His presence to that location alone. Not only is this rightly rejected by modern man, it ought to be rejected by any orthodox Catholic who knows his faith.

Other quotes deal with Ratzinger/Benedict's views on the Jews, the Eucharist, the Papacy, Ecumenism, and more. Read Pope or Heretic? An Evaluation of Benedict XVI.


  1. Benedict XVI either is or is not a pertinacious heretic.

    God either directly willed, or permissively willed his "election".

    Do the math. Our choices are limited.

    Nothing I have ever written, including stuff I wrote yesterday would stand before the judgment and I constantly disgust myself.

    Despite what some people think I think I
    a. like the man, he's German, a cousin.
    b. like what he is doing and saying (mostly).
    c. think he's a far, far better man than I.
    d. have a legitimate hope that he will do what God wills for him and that wherever he has been or is in error (if such is true) he will adjust and make amends as God wills.
    e. repent and have repented of my error with the last Pope of ALWAYS, ALWAYS thinking the worst.

    JAM--- you are dead right about the hermeneutics of suspicion viz protestants looking at the catholic church, I was just like that.

    I lose my temper and get frustrated, I am frustrated by his seeming willingness to obfuscate about the confessional catholic state, but I swear there is an element in Benedict XVI watching that has more in common with Jack Chick than attempts at legitimate criticism and suggestion and concern AND learning. For, is it possible, that I could actually LEARN something from this Pope instead of trying to teach HIM???


    Great, balanced article. There is another good one on the CAI website too from the point of view of a protestant.

    Laugh all you want, but I watched this Pope when he first appeared in St. Peter's. Sat next to me was my 3 year-old daughter Saxon. Someone explain to me why my daughter, pointed right at him and YELLED "Pope, the Pope, daddy see, the Pope."

    Now how did she know that? We don't watch TV, except that day with rabbit ears and a fuzzy picture on a spanish language channel with no volume.

    I KNOW my daughter is in a state of sanctifying grace: she knows her Hail Mary etc, she always talks about Jesus' boo-boos and kisses his feet and points right at Him wherever she sees Him, and I know she is always looking up at the sky and says "Mary's coming, Mary's coming daddy"...she did it again yesterday whilst we were outside the grocery store, very LOUDLY. :-)

    I'll take my 3 year-old theologians opinion over the SV crowd any day of the week as to whether this Pope is the Pope.

  2. More B-XVI quotes on eucharistic adoration:

    From an address to priests in Poland, May 25, 2006

    "In a world where there is so much noise, so much bewilderment, there is a need for silent adoration of Jesus concealed in the Host. Be assiduous in the prayer of adoration and teach it to the faithful. It is a source of comfort and light, particularly to those who are suffering."

    From his meeting with members of the Roman clergy March 2, 2006

    "Thanks be to God that after the Council, after a period in which the sense of Eucharistic Adoration was somewhat lacking, the joy of this adoration was reborn everywhere in the Church, as we saw and heard at the Synod on the Eucharist. Of course, the conciliar Constitution on the Liturgy enabled us to discover to the full the riches of the Eucharist in which the Lord's testament is accomplished: he gives himself to us and we respond by giving ourselves to him.

    "We have now rediscovered, however, that without adoration as an act consequent to Communion received, this centre which the Lord gave to us, that is, the possibility of celebrating his sacrifice and thus of entering into a sacramental, almost corporeal, communion with him, loses its depth as well as its human richness.

    "Adoration means entering the depths of our hearts in communion with the Lord, who makes himself bodily present in the Eucharist. In the monstrance, he always entrusts himself to us and asks us to be united with his Presence, with his risen Body."


    "Here, once again, I only wish to underline that point which a little while ago we already mentioned in the context of World Youth Day: adoration of the Risen Lord, present in the Eucharist with flesh and blood, with body and soul, with divinity and humanity.

    It is moving for me to see how everywhere in the Church the joy of Eucharistic adoration is reawakening and being fruitful. In the period of liturgical reform, Mass and adoration outside it were often seen as in opposition to one another: it was thought that the Eucharistic Bread had not been given to us to be contemplated, but to be eaten, as a widespread objection claimed at that time.

    The experience of the prayer of the Church has already shown how nonsensical this antithesis was. Augustine had formerly said: '...nemo autem illam carnem manducat, nisi prius adoraverit;... peccemus non adorando - No one should eat this flesh without first adoring it;... we should sin were we not to adore it' (cf. Enarr. in Ps 98: 9 CCL XXXIX 1385).

    Indeed, we do not merely receive something in the Eucharist. It is the encounter and unification of persons; the person, however, who comes to meet us and desires to unite himself to us is the Son of God. Such unification can only be brought about by means of adoration.

    Receiving the Eucharist means adoring the One whom we receive. Precisely in this way and only in this way do we become one with him. Therefore, the development of Eucharistic adoration, as it took shape during the Middle Ages, was the most consistent consequence of the Eucharistic mystery itself: only in adoration can profound and true acceptance develop. And it is precisely this personal act of encounter with the Lord that develops the social mission which is contained in the Eucharist and desires to break down barriers, not only the barriers between the Lord and us but also and above all those that separate us from one another."

  3. So, this Pope says:
    "adoration of the Risen Lord, present in the Eucharist with flesh and blood, with body and soul, with divinity and humanity."

    Simon-Peter, lay nothing, says:
    "I believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, is really, truly, and substantially present, body, blood, soul and divinity in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar and wholly under either species."

    I have no doubt that both of us would be put on trial by someone for heresy.

    Jeff: our new Bishop, Diocese of Raleigh, sounds just like

    He's probably a heretic too.

    It lasts about 10 minutes and he sounds just like BXVI. I was so excited I called the lady who runs our only Diocesan perpetual adoration chapel (OLL, Raleigh) and said she might get some support now: the response was a diplomatic laugh ;-). Anyway, it is interesting that BXVI went to a youngster.

    I hope some of the priests we have in this Diocese, especially around Raleigh are packing their bags or going to get with the program.

    I wonder what, if anything, given the BXVI comments you posted, BXVI or his nuncio will do about this sodomite garbage up in St. Paul.

  4. repent and have repented of my error with the last Pope of ALWAYS, ALWAYS thinking the worst.

    I will echo that. For a while there, I was on a heresy hunt myself. Even bought his earlier books like "Sign of Contradiction," with no other intention than to scour it and expose the heresies (which means I was assuming the heresies were present before I'd even read the work).

    I know well and am fully familiar with the hermeneutic of suspicion when it comes to the pope.

    is it possible, that I could actually LEARN something from this Pope instead of trying to teach HIM???

    That's basically the spirit and attitude that I am trying to persuade Traditional Catholics today is so necessary.

    I KNOW my daughter is in a state of sanctifying grace: she knows her Hail Mary etc, she always talks about Jesus' boo-boos and kisses his feet

    Ha! My 3-year-old daughter does the same thing ... it's a beautiful thing to watch. I try to learn from her piety.

  5. First: there is such a thing as a material heretic. Look it up.

    Second: S-P could not have written what he says on the Post. He does not have such attacks of false humility. He knows the meaning of absolute. Tell us who to sue.

    Third: "God is dead." Friedrich Nietzsche 1882.
    Quoted "OUT OF CONTEXT";" and, according to Tom Wolfe, the statement had the greatest intellectual impact of any remark in two centuries.

    "Quoted out of context" is the oldest cop-out in the books in the attempt to cover up chicanery. Even American politicians now try to avoid it.

    And hey, JAM, short memory: already forgotten the kissed Koran and JP II apologizing to all and sundry for the Church's existence through the ages. Sanctifying grace must be addling your brain.

    Kiss the boo boos and you're saved, eh. Gee, I can say the Hail Mary too, so I guess that makes me a Protestant along with the rest of you guys.

    On the other hand, boo boo is a term for mistake. What are you teaching your daughter? What errors are Jesus being praised for?

  6. Those who are so quick to condemn a pope for heresy, are just as quick to jump from Peter's Barque. In this they show that they had long ago lost the grace of being a Catholic.

    At the same time, just because we follow the Saints believing that the pope will never become a pertinacious heretic (that is a real heretic) that does not mean that we hold as catholics that he can never sin or never commit the sin of infidelity.

    The root problem today is not so much the prepapal writings of the current Pontiff. But the widespread fear of being faithful to Jesus in a disciplined Christian life, moral and liturgical and spiritual and ascentical and religious.

    That fear runs deep in liberals, conservatives, traditionalists, etc., though in different degrees. Only if we have a deep prayer life and are zealous can we obtain the grace of immunity to this spiritual plague.

    Throwing up our hands and saying that the age is just to wicked or that our superiors are just too venal to do anything about the problems in the Church or society, is a very convienient cop out. Just as the world was redeemed by much sweat and a most bloody sacrifice by an entirely Innocent God-Man, so we must as His faithful disciplines be not only willing to but actually make such great sacrifices for the salvation of our own souls and those of our neighbors. A bunker mentality, or a flee to the woods mentality won't do. Neither a go along to get along. Nor the set of PC pink glasses and a paisely shirt of sycophancy.

  7. Dear Br. AB:

    We do wish you would identify to whom you are responding.

    Three bishops of the SSPX have said that "humanly speaking" as far as Rome is concerned "it's over."

    Why does NO ONE recognize the category of material heretic into which even Popes can justifiably be determined to fall. Ecumenism is a heresy, blatant, pure, and simple. So were its founding documents in Vatican II and such gems as Ut Unum Sint. In fact, quoting Christ in THAT encyclical amounted to blasphemy.

    What ever happened to iota unum, aut unus apex, non præteribit?

    As the Bishop of Glocester said to the Earl of Sandwich: "my doxy is orthodoxy."

    I shall defend it against whomever, as required, and I don't need some arbiter pietas telling me I'm copping out or have a bunker mentality.

    If none of your comments were in reference to my posting, all due apologies - but who can tell?

  8. I should add a postscript to my previous remarks. This is a very limited medium and I don't think it imperative, precisely, to conclude from a certain articulated position (without further evidence) that one, say, has exactly made the decision to sit on his hands. We still do, some of us who might lend this appearance, "gird our loins to fight the lost battles" as St. Mugg put it.

  9. There is no doubt that Benedict XVI is a deeply liberal thinker. His 22 December speech before the Roman curia demonstrates that. Whether he is a heretic I am not confident to judge. Yet, in that speech he articulated for us that Church embraced the modern state whose roots are in the acceptable aspects of the French Revolution enshrined in the doctrines of the US Constitution. That of course flies in the face of all Catholic teaching up to Vatican Council II. But heretic or not, he will manipulate the symbols of visible continuity with tradition in order not to excite out and out revolt. He knows that liberalization of the Church is not the task of a single pontificate. By winning as many "conservatives" to his liberal cause he will be able to ensure as much as that is possible a successfor who will continue his legacy. When I was a boy an Episcopalian minister told me that one day the Catholic church would look and feel very much like his own sect. I was offended at that time. But as I see how "high church traditionalists," broad church conservatives and low church charismatics and evangelicals are emerging in the Catholic church of today I do not think he was far off the mark. Furthermore, I believe that Benedict XVI finds such a model of the Church acceptable. It is a vision where the Roman pontiff will eventually be regarded as first among equals, where parish's will be ruled by councils and national church's by bishops conferences. Its moral teaching, the morality of the possible much like that which inspires Cardinal McCarrick. It will still be the Catholic church of course, because where Rome is, there is the Church.

  10. Proklos is pretty much on target, with the exception of his last statement.

    Having thus demurred, I will only say that the matter is far too mysteriously complicated to explicate here, even if one were qualified, which I am not.

    Those eminently well-versed, whom I have read and who have addressed this particular issue in well-documented detail, do not, let it be said, at all agree with Proklos; for reasons that are eminently persuasive.

  11. Samzidat: The last statement was made in irony.

  12. Dear Proklos:

    Thanks for the clarification, and all due apology.

    I love irony, sometimes try to use it, and am familiar with it in literature, but it can be quite tricky and I don't have the finest ear for it - I do have some acuity, because I have read a lot of Henry James.

    I would say that irony and even the broadest satire completely elude most people - they are absolutely deaf.

    When I re-read the comment that stimulated my demurral I was chagrined that I didn't catch it.

    By way of letting myself off the hook just a teensy bit, I will note that there are some on the Blog site who are in the habit of contradicting themselves with some very sloppy writing.

  13. "It will still be the Catholic church of course, because where Rome is, there is the Church."

    Ironical, eh?

    New Mass and Old Mass make a "different religion" and "Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia" is a matter of winks, grins, and knowing guffaws.

    Remind why again why suggesting that there's a schism somewhere is beyond the pale?

  14. Jeff:

    The quotation is an idiocy. Not ironical, just dumb.

    Christ never went to Rome. He established His Church quite elsewhere. Jerusalem maybe?

    "All roads lead to Rome"

    "Rome" is a metaphor in all cases.

    You better believe there is a schism.

  15. I must add a post script:

    The photo of Our Man In Rome is stunningly apropriate. We not only have a material heretic, but one that rises only at night and attacks the necks of my fair lady. Vlad the Impaler. Count Dracula. Only he suck souls, not blood.

    Has anyone noticed the absence of the smell of garlic in and around the Vatican lately?

    I'll bet Cardinals Sodano and Kasper eat flies.

  16. Kasper doesn't eat as he suffers from "ecumania nervosa".

  17. Mack:

    I take your point.

    Actually Kasper does eat, but what he "eats" won't fly, even when he spits it back out.

    In the literal sense, of course, he couldn't eat because I once saw him as a ghost.

    Yes, I know, I should have resisted. Everybody's thought it, but I'm the only one with enough ridiculous temerity to have said it.

  18. Sodano is only a papal shadow of his former self - obviously, he's off eating, too.

  19. Mack, your comment is so tempting, but this is a family audience.

    I'm glad that our man is a shadow, though. Sodano, lui non solido. Sounds good even in Italian.

  20. Sodano n'est qu'un ombre.

  21. Mack:

    What shade is spiritually dead? Ha. Ha.


    Ratzinger would laugh when he'd meet us
    like an "irresponsible foetus;"
    He'd swish up his hand
    To strike up the band
    And bray "you must join, you can't beat us."

    Note: the initial words in quotes are lifted from T.S. Eliot's poem Mr Appolinax (1917)


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