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.