Tag Archive: benedict xvi

False dichotomies

benedict xvi 7It’s a regrettable tendency to praise a person whilst implicitly or explicitly putting someone else down.  We’re seeing a lot of that at the moment in the favourable press Pope Francis is rightly receiving for his personable and down-to-earth style.  The human mind seems to resist nuance, and too often defaults to unnecessary dichotomies.  I happen to believe that Benedict XVI is every bit as humble as his successor.  Humility comes in many shapes and sizes.  As someone who has long been judged negatively by the clothes I wear, I find it ironic that the people most likely to judge me negatively on that basis are very quick – in other contexts – to say that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

One of the phrases that Benedict XVI is going to be remembered for is his teaching about the “hermeneutic of continuity.”  When he first spoke of this in 2005, he didn’t, in fact, put those three words together.  He did, rather, speak of the “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” which was how many of us learnt about Vatican Council II.  “Out with the old, in with the new” was what we were taught;  the pre-conciliar Church was bad and outdated, the post-conciliar Church is good and new.  You got the impression that there were two Churches.  Benedict urged us to eschew such false dichotomies, and to interpret Church history with a “‘hermeneutic of reform’, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us.”  One Church, always renewing and reforming [itself]: ecclesia semper reformanda.

I think that during the years of Benedict XVI’s pontificate we thought that this was the time of reform and renewal in continuity with the tradition of the Church.  And certainly there were many aspects of that: especially with regard to the Sacred Liturgy, and the continuing flourishing of newer congregations of consecrated life.

francis 1However, I believe that now is especially the moment when we should be taking Benedict XVI’s teaching to heart.  Instead of interpreting Pope Francis’ pontificate as a rupture and discontinuity, we should be seeing it as reform and renewal in continuity with what was before.  Before we get carried away and throw the baby out with the bath water, which is what tends to happen when you interpret reform as “rupture and discontinuity” – as sadly happened all too often after Vatican II – we should take a deep breath and see what the Holy Spirit is saying in this moment of continuing renewal.

I also suggest that it’s far too early to be writing the history books on the pontificate of Pope Francis, or Benedict XVI for that matter.  Pope Francis may well have a different look, different clothes, different residence, and different style than his predecessor, but it’s the same petrine ministry, same Church, and same faith in which the successor of Saint Peter is strengthening his brothers and sisters.  Rather than pitting Francis and Benedict in opposition, why not rather just give thanks for the gift of two unique popes, who each put (and are putting) their personalities and lives at the service of the Church, to lead all of us closer to Christ?

Sede vacante


The Roman Apostolic See is vacant.

Until we hear the words “Habemus papam,” please pray that the cardinals will be docile to the action of the Holy Spirit, and elect the man God chooses as the next successor of Saint Peter.

O God, eternal shepherd,
who govern your flock with
unfailing care,
grant in your boundless fatherly love
a pastor for your Church
who will please you by his holiness
and to us show watchful care.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ,
your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the
unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.



Some final words from Benedict XVI

benedict xvi final audienceAt his final General Audience on 27 February 2013, the Holy Father spoke about what his “life in retirement” will be like.  He said:

“’Always’ is also ‘forever’–there is no return to private life. My decision to renounce the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this. I am not returning to private life, to a life of trips, meetings, receptions, conferences, etc. I am not abandoning the cross, but am remaining beside the Crucified Lord in a new way. I no longer bear the power of the office for the governance of the Church, but I remain in the service of prayer, within St. Peter’s paddock, so to speak. St. Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, will be a great example to me in this. He has shown us the way for a life that, active or passive, belongs wholly to God’s work.”

“I also thank each and every one of you for the respect and understanding with which you have received this important decision. I will continue to accompany the Church’s journey through prayer and reflection, with the dedication to the Lord and His Bride that I have tried to live every day up to now and that I want to always live. I ask you to remember me to God, and above all to pray for the Cardinals who are called to such an important task, and for the new Successor of the Apostle Peter. Many the Lord accompany him with the light and strength of His Spirit.”

“We call upon the maternal intercession of Mary, the Mother of God and of the Church, that she might accompany each of us and the entire ecclesial community. We entrust ourselves to her with deep confidence.”

Benedict XVI we will miss youAt any Masses celebrated after 6am Friday morning (Brisbane time) we will no longer hear Benedict’s name in the Eucharistic Prayer.

The Church has been mightily blessed by Joseph Ratzinger’s acceptance and excercise of the Petrine ministry since he was elected successor of Saint Peter in 2005.  May God now bless him as he enters his monastic life of prayer and penance for the Church.

And the next pope will be …

face question markAlready I’m sick to death of stories about the most likely “contender” for the papacy.  It’s like the ecclesiastical equivalent of a protracted federal election.

I make this plea to Catholic journalists: instead of writing another piece about who the next pope will be, please spend that time by going to the nearest church that is open, kneeling down before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and praying that the cardinals elect the man whom God wants as our supreme pontiff.

At this stage, that [prayer] is all that really matters.

God bless our AWESOME Pope Benedict!

benedict xvi 2013 02 20

I liked this comment from Cardinal Cipriani, of Lima, Peru, in a recent interview:

Q: What do you expect from this election? What currents are in conflict? There is talk of the Orthodox, of the progressives …

Cardinal Cipriani: I’m not going to comment on that, because frankly, I don’t believe in those currents. I believe in the action of the Holy Spirit and hope that we cardinals will be able to be men who listen to God, otherwise, we are of no use at all.

Source: Zenit.


Vatican City, 30 November 2012 (VIS) – Pope Benedict’s general prayer intention for December is: “That migrants throughout the world may be welcomed with generosity and authentic love, especially by Christian communities”.

His mission intention is: “That Christ may reveal Himself to all humanity with the light that shines forth from Bethlehem and is reflected in the face of His Church”.

A new Archbishop of Canterbury

The 56-year-old Bishop of Durham, the Rt. Rev. Justin Welby, has been named as the successor to Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, and spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion.

I just happened to turn on the TV a few minutes ago and saw part of the press conference announcing his selection.  Interestingly, he only became a bishop last year, so he is fairly new to episcopal ministry.

He indicated in his speech that he supports the ordination of women as bishops.  This is regretable, in my opinion, as such a move will be another wedge that will hinder the work of restoring Christian unity.

We can be grateful, I believe, for the creative insight of our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, in creating the Personal Ordinariate structures – which celebrated their third birthday during the week – to allow our Anglican brothers and sisters to continue professing catholic and orthodox faith, whilst retaining parts of their Anglican patrimony and traditions, but also to return to full communion with the successor of Saint Peter.

Please pray for Bishop Welby as he takes up this important ministry, and also for the Anglican Communion throughout the world.

BBC News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20264520

National Post: http://life.nationalpost.com/2012/11/08/from-oil-man-to-archbishop-next-anglican-leader-left-corporate-world-for-the-clergy/

The Council Fathers neither could nor wished to create a new or different Church. They had neither the authority nor the mandate to do so. It was only in their capacity as bishops that they were now Council Fathers with a vote and decision-making powers, that is to say, on the basis of the Sacrament and in the Church of the Sacrament. For this reason they neither could nor wished to create a different faith or a new Church, but rather to understand these more deeply and hence truly to “renew them”. This is why a hermeneutic of rupture is absurd and is contrary to the spirit and the will of the Council Fathers.

— Pope Benedict XVI, commenting on the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, published in L’Osservatore Romano, 11 October 2012.

Source: http://www.zenit.org/article-35707?l=english


The Holy Father has called upon Catholics to take up praying the Rosary with renewed enthusiasm during the Year of Faith which begins October 11.

He said:

… I would like to invite everyone to cherish the Rosary during the forthcoming Year of Faith. With the Rosary, in fact, we allow ourselves to be guided by Mary, the model of faith, in meditating upon the mysteries of Christ, and day after day we are helped to assimilate the Gospel so that it can shape our lives. Therefore, in the wake of my predecessors, and in particular Blessed John Paul II who ten years ago gave us his Apostolic Letter ‘Rosarium Virginis Mariae’, I invite people to pray the Rosary individually, in the family and in the community, placing themselves in the school of Mary who leads us to Christ, the living centre of our faith”.

— Pope Benedict XVI, before praying the Angelus, Sunday, 7 October 2012.


Pope Benedict XVI delivers his blessing during the Angelus prayer at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, in the outskirts of Rome, Sunday, July 29, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI has issued an urgent appeal for an end to `’all violence and bloodshed” in Syria. The pope in his traditional Sunday Angelus prayer called for all parties, including the international community, to spare no effort in seeking peace and a political settlement to the conflict. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Pope Benedict’s general prayer intention for August 2012 is: “That prisoners may be treated with justice and respect for their human dignity”.

His mission intention is: “That young people, called to follow Christ, may be willing to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel to the ends of the earth”.

One sometimes hears of parents who do not baptize their children, saying that they are going to let the child choose for him/her-self what religion they want to be.  It was interesting to see the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, address this issue in a recent address.  He said [my emphases]:

In the end the question remains […] of the Baptism of children. Is it right to do it, or would it be more necessary to first undertake the catechumenal way to arrive at a truly realized Baptism? And the other question that is always asked is: “But can we impose on a child which religion he should or should not live? Should we not let the child choose?” These questions show that we no longer see in the Christian faith the new life, the true life, but we see a choice among others, even a burden that should not be imposed without having the assent of the individual. The reality is different. Life itself is given to us without our being able to choose if we wish to live or not; no one can be asked: “do you want to be born or not?” Life itself comes to us necessarily without our previous consent, it is given to us thus and we cannot first say “yes or no, I want or do not want to live.” And, in reality, the real question is: “Is it right to give life in this world without having had the consensus – do you want to live or not? Can one really anticipate life, give life without the individual having had the possibility to decide?” I would say: it is possible and right only if, with life, we can also give the guarantee that life, with all the problems of the world, is good, that it is good to live, that there is a guarantee that this life is good, is protected by God and is a real gift. Only the anticipation of the meaning justifies the anticipation of life. And because of this Baptism as guarantee of God’s goodness, as anticipation of the meaning, of the “yes” of God who protects this life, also justifies the anticipation of life. Hence, the Baptism of children is not against liberty; in fact it is necessary to give this, to justify also the gift — otherwise debatable – of life. Only the life that is in the hands of God, in the hands of Christ, immersed in the name of the Trinitarian God, is certainly a good that can be given without scruples. And thus we are grateful to God who has given us this gift, who has given us himself. And our challenge is to live this gift, to really live, in a post-baptismal journey, the renunciations of the “yes” and to live always in the great “yes” of God, and so live well.

See the full address here: http://www.zenit.org/article-34967?l=english