Rorate Caeli

Exclusive Op-Ed - Pio Pace on latest Roman Comments on the Bizarre Dual Papacy

We are very honored to post this new article by a very wise, knowledgeable, and highly influential cleric, writing under the pen name of don Pio Pace. This time, don Pio Pace reveals to us the startling opinion mill in Rome surrounding the explosive revelation by Abp. Georg Gänswein on how he (and presumably Benedict XVI) sees the current dual status of the papacy.

"Contemplative Pope versus Active Pope"

by Father Pio Pace
Pope Benedict XVI meets Cardinal Bergoglio in Rome, January 13, 2007

It is not doubtful that the document we will consider as the most important one in the Pontificate of Francis will be the exhortation Amoris Laetitia, just as Summorum Pontificum is already for that of Benedict XVI. Nobody truly believes in a consequential reform of the Roman Curia, regarding which Pope Francis has never revealed the beginning of a glance...and on which he is not at all interested. On the other hand, Amoris Laetitia, which opens up the Magisterium of the Church to liberal interpretations, truly represents the essence of his project: a papacy legitimized by the media, and having become a provider of good feelings to the modern world.

And it truly is the masterpiece of the pontificate, prepared for a very long time: the manipulation of the Synod by the Baldisseri-Forte-Spadaro-Fabene team, who had written the exhortation even before the 2015 Synod, had often been talked about in Rome. Well, Sandro Magister has just provided the evidence that the key passages of Amoris Laetitia were copied-and-pasted from articles published ten years ago by Abp. Victor Manuel "Tucho" Fernández, rector of the Catholic University of Argentina (UCA), a close friend of the Pope and his greatest reference on moral questions.

We are only beginning to measure the extension of the earthquake caused by Amoris Laetitia, which in fact relativizes the entire Moral Magisterium, an essential part  -- why not say, the only remaining part -- of the papal Magisterium after Vatican II. From now on, any unequivocal moral stance will be impossible (as well as, obviously, any condemnation).

The opposition, despite its attempts of resistance during the two last assemblies of the Synod of Bishops, does not truly manage to find its standing, to find an appropriate response. It is in this morose atmosphere that it listened to the strange speech of Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Prefect of the Pontifical Household, and private secretary of the Pope Emeritus.

It was on May 20, at the Gregorian University, for the presentation of the book by Don Roberto Regoli, Oltre la crisi della Chiesa. Il pontificato di Benedetto XVI (Beyond the Crisis of the Church: The Pontificate of Benedict XVI), published by Lindau (Turin). The panel in the room was not exactly Ratzingerian: Paolo Rodari, a former Ratzingerian who became a liberal when moving to La Repubblica, Fr. Nuno da Silva Gonçalvez, dean of the Faculty of History, Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant'Egidio. The room, on the other hand, was filled with those ready to receive the words that would allow to gather those of the Great Silent One, Pope Ratzinger.

Those attending were not disappointed. The readers of Rorate Caeli were able to read the comments that Edward Pentin made about them in the National Catholic Register. The message sent by the monastery intra muros Vaticani was made up of two points:

(1st) An interpretive key of the 2005 Conclave (and, in an opposite sense, of the 2013 Conclave): following a dramatic struggle between the "Party of the Salt of the Earth", around Cardinals López Trujillo, Ruini, Herranz, Rouco Varela, Medina, and that of the "St-Gallen Group", around Cardinals Danneels, Martini, Silvestrini, and Murphy-O'Connor, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who had just pronounced a solemn address against the "dictatorship of relativism" was elected. No need to be a great analyst to understand what happened in 2013: in that year, in an opposite sense, the heralds of the "Dictatorship of relativism" were the ones listened to by the Conclave.

(2nd) But the second point was even bolder: it dealt with the "enlargement of the Petrine ministry" to two Popes! Following the election of March 13, 2013, "there are not two Popes, but one ministry that is de facto enlarged, with one active member and one contemplative member." We had heard anything that strong since the announcement of the resignation of Benedict XVI. Gänswein explained: "It is for that reason that Benedict XVI did not resign either to his name or to the white cassock. It is for this reason that the treatment for addressing him today remains 'Holiness'. And it is for this reason that he did not retire in an isolated monastery, but within the Vatican." That means we have in the history "a new phase in the history of the papacy." Just as there are two liturgical forms in a single Roman Rite, there would be two Pontifical members within a single papal position. Each person may choose the liturgical form or Pontifical member that is adequate to one's own sensibility...

Theologically, this makes no sense whatsoever! One is forced, therefore, to find a "political" meaning. It could be this: in a Rome where each one may say, today, almost anything one wants to say -- considering, in any event, that there is no ambition willing to face the Bergoglian establishment head on -- Georg Gänswein, who receives everyday the cries and lamentations of the Ratzingerians, builds up, with the aid of Regali, the statue of his Pope as an accusing statue of against the Commander, as a "contemplative Pope". And, by the very fact of doing so, he weakens even more the legitimacy of the "active Pope", in the spirit of his nostalgic friends.

Are they merely nostalgic? This is the entire question. In reality, they are abandoned. They are in expectation of a strong symbolic stand, which the current situation demands. Three cardinals are in a position to give it: Müller, Sarah, and Burke.

Cardinal Müller positioned himself, in the name of his function as Prefect of the Faith (which has become almost honorific: Amoris Laetitia, if we read it well, that is, with the lenses of the preceding Magisterium, says nothing else than this preceding Magisterium. A poignant strategy, but with no effect whatsoever. Cardinal Sarah keeps discretion. A good strategy...if the future path is unblocked shortly. About which no one can be sure.

As for Cardinal Burke, he first disappointed his followers. I mean it, his followers, because having been the soul of the two books that had gathered together the Cardinals who opposed the changes on the doctrine on marriage, in 2014 and in 2015, he seemed then, nolens volens, as a leader. He has, however, chosen this strategy: to affirm, without making comments on the substance of the matter, that numerous passages of Amoris Laetitia are not part of the Magisterium. This has seemed like a weak response, but it also represents an explosive harbinger for the future. 

In reality, the three Cardinals, three musketeers who are sworn enemies of the "dictatorship of relativism" are four: the fourth is Carlo Caffarra, Archbishop Emeritus of Bologna, one of the greatest experts on the moral work of Pius XII. In fact, for him it is is Pope Pacelli who is the "contemplative Pope", the pope of reference who is still present -- which is not false, or at least in the process of becoming true...