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:
September 25, 2018
Kenneth Surin
Fact-Finding Labour’s “Anti-Semitism” Crisis
Charles Pierson
Destroying Yemen as Humanely as Possible
James Rothenberg
Why Not Socialism?
Patrick Cockburn
How Putin Came Out on Top in Syria
John Grant
“Awesome Uncontrollable Male Passion” Meets Its Match
Guy Horton
Burma: Complicity With Evil?
Steve Stallone
Jujitsu Comms
William Blum
Bombing Libya: the Origins of Europe’s Immigration Crisis
John Feffer
There’s a New Crash Coming
Martha Pskowski
“The Emergency Isn’t Over”: the Homeless Commemorate a Year Since the Mexico City Earthquake
Fred Baumgarten
Ten Ways of Looking at Civility
Dean Baker
The Great Financial Crisis: Bernanke and the Bubble
Binoy Kampmark
Parasitic and Irrelevant: The University Vice Chancellor
September 24, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Hiding in Plain Sight: Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us
Gary Leupp
All the Good News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
Robert Fisk
I Don’t See How a Palestinian State Can Ever Happen
Barry Brown
Pot as Political Speech
Lara Merling
Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy and Its Continuing Economic Troubles
Patrick Cockburn
Iraq’s Prime Ministers Come and Go, But the Stalemate Remains
William Blum
The New Iraq WMD: Russian Interference in US Elections
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Snoopers’ Charter Has Been Dealt a Serious Blow
Joseph Matten
Why Did Global Economic Performance Deteriorate in the 1970s?
Zhivko Illeieff
The Millennial Label: Distinguishing Facts from Fiction
Thomas Hon Wing Polin – Gerry Brown
Xinjiang : The New Great Game
Binoy Kampmark
Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama
Max Wilbert
Blue Angels: the Naked Face of Empire
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will There Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail