FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Pope of Fear and Centralized Power?

The elevation of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to Pope of the Catholic Church has brought satisfaction to some, and concern to others. Two factors cause these concerns: his style of governing the Church, and his basic attitude vis-a-vis today’s pluralistic world.

As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for more than twenty years, and in his homily to the Cardinals before entering the Conclave, Benedict XVI made it clear that he will continue the line of his predecessor.

If his style of governing the Church were to centralize it, as previously, there is a risk that the Church will be identified with the Pope. If, in the face of a plural world, the basic attitude is purely and simply to affirm orthodoxy, openly opposing cultural pluralist tendencies, the Church runs the risk of identifying Rome with the world, thus becoming a redoubt of conservatism and of Christian intellectual mediocrity.

If centralization prevails, it will restrict the creativity of the local churches that need freedom to articulate to the masses of the suffering faithful, faith with justice and social mission with liberation, without which evangelization is alienation. The exodus of the faithful to other denominations will worsen. This situation is characteristic of all the Third World where more than half of all the Catholic of the world are found.

If the attitude of confrontation with modernity and post-modernity prevails, I foresee disastrous consequences for the future of the Church. Traditionalist as he is, Benedict XVI must know that this strategy profoundly wears down the Church. In the past, he deprived the liberation movements of the oppressed the cooperation of Christians who could have offered Christian values to the emerging social relations, leaving them instead alienated and immature. The Church herself arrived always late for everything, even to the signing of the Declaration of Human Rights. A Church that returns to models of the past becomes immobile, like a fossil. Accommodating, she does not fulfill her mission of educating Christians for the new times. Instead, she clericalizes, leaving them immature in matters of faith, if not childish, popish flatterers, of whom there are so many these days.

These questions, once they have been thought through and articulated, will remain so long as they are not settled. Vatican Council II settled them, but John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger interpreted it in a manner which nullifies the Council.

Open confrontation instead of dialogue, besides being a strategic error, is a theological one. Vatican Council II taught that to dialogue with philosophies and ideological currents, in the first place, the elements of light and positive that are in them must be identified, because, whether they come through Marx, Freud or Lyotard, if they are true, in the final analysis they come from God.

Ending ecumenism is to affirm, as the document Dominus Iesus, by Cardinal Ratzinger, says, that only the Catholic Church is the Church of Christ and that the others are not Churches, but only have ecclesial elements. It is also to say to other religions that they have valid elements, but that their followers run a grave risk of perdition because they are outside the Catholic Church, the only true religion. This is not to dialogue but to insult. Cordiality is used to facilitate conversion. That is deceitful and undignified.

I believe in miracles. Let’s hope Benedict XVI becomes again the theologian I used to respect, who elicited hope, not fear.

LEONARDO BOFF is a liberation theologist living in Brazil.

More articles by:

December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail