Veteran Vatican journalist Marco Tosatti has published a fascinating book review that provides excellent perspective on the roots of the confusion in the Church embodied by the Synod on the Amazon. His source writes using the pseudonym "Super Ex" because he has formerly worked within various Church movements and has an excellent knowledge of the truth of how things stand with the hierarchy. This review presents an incisive analysis of the present situation of the Church, and above all of the battle that Joseph Ratzinger has fought throughout his life to defend the Church from her enemies who today seem to have the upper hand.
The fact that Benedict XVI is still living and witnessing what is transpiring today in the Church is perhaps a mystery of the Faith. First as cardinal and then as pope, Ratzinger was the Churchman who fought the most against the "self-destruction of the Church by her own ministers."
Today he is witnessing the momentary defeat of everything he has done and said for decades. As things presently stand, his opponents of yesterday are now triumphing across the board.
In order to understand this, we need to pick up an old book, Senza Misericordia ("Without Mercy"), published by [Milan publishing house] Kaos in July 2005, right after the election of Ratzinger to the papal throne. The authors of the book called themselves "Disciples of Truth" — enemies of Benedict XVI, Churchmen hiding under pseudonyms, thus covertly launching their accusations against their perennial adversary. The book contains a partisan and sectarian — but extremely interesting — telling of the battles of the former-Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, contemptuously referred to as the Panzerkardinal.
We should remember that, as soon as he was elected, Bergoglio publicly praised a book with the opposite title — Misericordia — written by German Cdl. Walter Kasper, Enemy Number One of Ratzinger. It soon became clear what sort of "mercy" it was that the not-so-charitable Argentine would seek to impose on the Catholic Church, using every possible purge and appropriate means.
Let's take a look at this book and retrace the battles of Ratzinger and, indirectly, those of John Paul II.
The first chapter of the second part of Senza Misericordia opens with a significant title: "Against Liberation Theology." The first accusation brought against the newly elected Benedict XVI was precisely this: that he had spent his entire life, beginning with a document in 1984, opposing confusion between the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the "gospel" of Karl Marx.
The book summarizes the way in which Ratzinger investigated and condemned many of those who today are playing a direct role in the Synod on the Amazon, including the Peruvian Gustavo Gutierrez and the Brazilian Franciscan Leonardo Boff. The latter affirmed, in 1985, that "the majority of the Brazilian clergy have already embraced liberation theology."
The "Disciples of Truth" recall another clash: the one between Ratzinger and Msgr. Pedro Casaldáliga, a bishop of Brazilian Amazonia engaged in social work according to the spirit of the socalist utopia. After a Roman admonition was given to Casaldáliga on Sept. 27, 1988, some 20 Brazilian bishops sent a declaration of solidarity with their disciplined brother bishop to Ratzinger. Jumping forward a few more pages, we find another encounter between Ratzinger and yet another Brazilian theologian, the feminist activist Ivone Gerbara, who wrote in 1995 that she was in favor of abortion "in certain cases and circumstances."
It was Ratzinger and John Paul II who identified the Marxist Catholicism of Latin America as one of the cancers of Catholicism. And they called Gutierrez, Boff, Casaldáliga and Gerbara to return to the true faith. This is most interesting in light of certain facts: Among the main papal electors of Bergoglio was Brazilian Cdl. Claudio Hummes, who in his youth was publicly associated with liberation theology. And now today Bergoglio has convoked a Synod on the Amazon, which is mostly located in Brazil, and he has chosen Cdl. Hummes as the Relator General of the Synod.
Is Latin American liberation theology, or more precisely Brazilian liberation theology, having its revenge? In the last few years Bergoglio has blatantly rehabilitated all of the theologians formerly condemned by Ratzinger.
In June 2018, for example, Bergoglio publicly received, thanked and praised Gustavo Gutierrez, and he subsequently gave customs clearance to the socialist rebel Leonardo Boff, who had greeted Bergoglio's election with enthusiasm by sending Boff a letter of congratulations on the occasion of the publication of one of his books.
And as for Pedro Casaldáliga, Bergoglio considers him a good teacher. Proof of this, at the very least, is the laudatory article pubished in L'Osservatore Romano on Feb. 18, 2018, in which the bishop who had at one time been disciplined by Ratzinger and John Paul II was hailed by the Vatican daily as nothing less than a "prophet," the "referent of the Church of the poor — in Brazil and beyond its borders — committed to the defense of the rights of peasants and indigenous peoples and quilombolas [the descendants of African slaves], with the active participation of the grass-roots ecclesial communities, with the laity as the principal protagonists."
Casaldáliga is also the author of "his" creed which contains affirmations such as the following: "I believe in a diverse, more fraternal humanity. The world needs to breathe harmoniously in a human manner. All men should recognize each other as men, as brothers, in the utopia of faith … I believe in the new man ..." — a true manifesto of humanism without Christ, the humanism of [Italian Prime Minister] Conte and Bergoglio.
Which is the exact opposite of Christian humanism, as defined by Benedict XVI: "We have instead another measure: the Son of God, the true Man. It is He Who is the measure of true humanism."
Senza Misericordia continues its attack with a listing of the "heroes" of ethical relativism who, it says, were unjustly opposed by the German "bulldog" Joseph Ratzinger.
The first one on the list is the Belgian Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx, "opposed to ecclesiastical celibacy and in favor of the priestly ordination of women." The Belgian heretic, his fans will recall, was very active on other fronts, and in June 1983 he signed a document together with Hans Küng and Leonardo Boff as a sign of "solidarity" with "the Church of the poor" in Nicaragua, a document that dissented from what John Paul II had affirmed during his 1983 visit to Managua about the inadmissibility of a "'popular Church' existing in opposition to the local bishops."
Already here we see the knitting together of heresies: the political heresies advocated above all by Brazilians and Latin Americans, and the ethical heresies advanced in particular by Northern Europeans, Belgians, Germans and Americans.
The Belgian Church, as is well known, followed the path of Fr. Schillebeeckx, of Cdl. Leo Joseph Suenens [one of the leading "progressives" of Vatican II] and Godfried Danneels, one of the great electors of Bergoglio, despite the numerous scandals linked to his cover-up of sexual crimes committed by predator prelates.
During his pontificate, Benedict XVI tried at least a little to overturn the Schillebeeckx-Danneels line, replacing Danneels with the excellent André-Joseph Léonard as bishop of the diocese of Brussels. Léonard was immediately marginalized by Bergoglio, evidently in solidarity with the feminist and LGBT militants who had made Léonard their favorite target (resorting to violence and insults ... without ever any sign of Vatican disapproval).
After the Belgian, there was the American Fr. Charles Curran — a moral theologian in favor of homosexuality, contraception, euthanasia and divorce, who in 1983 was forced to undergo (poor thing) "the darts of Cardinal Prefect Ratzinger" — and the American Abp. Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle, investigated by Ratzinger in 1985 for his closeness to the gay movement and also for his promotion of second marriages without a declaration of nullity.
Ratzinger's admonition directed that "the Archdiocese ought to avoid giving any sort of support to any group that does not unequivocally accept the teaching of the Magisterium concerning the intrinsic evil of homosexual activity." It added that "the unfortunate reception in his cathedral of a pro-homosexual group has contributed to making the Church's position on this delicate but important question ambiguous."
And today? In the USA Bergoglio nominates cardinals and promotes to the positions of maximum visibility those prelates who publicly welcome LGBT groups into their dioceses, who deny the existence of "intrinsic evil" and who make ambiguity their usual tool to undermine the Church's teaching on this "difficult but important question." Suffice it to give the names of Farrell, Cupich, Tobin, and Martin.
We will add a significant anecdote: In 1986 Ratzinger overthrew Abp. Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle, who was removed for many reasons, replacing him with his Auxiliary Bishop, Donald Wuerl, who would go on to become cardinal and one of the great electors of Bergoglio, and who was also, as is now well known, an intimate friend of the progressive cardinal and serial abuser Theodore McCarrick.
If Abp. Raymond Hunthausen was overthrown by Ratzinger, his assistant, Donald Wuerl (chosen for his merits?) was himself in turn forced to resign, but this time by lay justice because he covered up sexual abuse!
In order to make their stand in defense of poor Abp. Raymond Hunthausen, the "Disciples of Truth" recall with profound devotion the example of Abp. Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee, who launched his own darts against the "fanaticism" and "cruelty" of the Vatican (a bit like Fr. James Martin does now, with the papal stamp of approval).
Years later, Weakland — as the "Disciples of Truth" do not recall — first sought to minimize the question of sexual abuse, and then he himself was accused of sexual violence against one of his own theology students (with whom he had, by his own admission, a sexual relationship), in the end secretly paying him $450,000 with diocesan money in order to prevent a lawsuit against him.
Returning to the merciful indictment of Senza Misericordia, another paragraph is dedicated to Ratzinger titled "The Anti-Gay Dogma of the Homophobic Prefect." This section contains one by one the transformation into martyrs of all of the German theologians who rebelled against the Church's teaching on morality: Bernhard Haring and Bishops Karl Lehmann, Walter Kasper and Oskar Saier.
The book recalls about these men that "in the summer of 1993 they signed a pastoral letter for the accompaniment of persons with failed marriages and those who are divorced and remarried." This letter contained an innovative and "open" interpretation of the ban on receiving the Eucharist by divorced and remarried persons: It hypothesized the individual and subjective decision to receive it, in determined cases ... ." But Ratzinger responded on Sept. 14, 1994, opposing it.
In 1993–94 Kasper was thus forced to retire by Ratzinger and John Paul II. But behold, in 2015 Bergoglio convenes a Synod on the Family that is manipulated to arrive at the conclusions of Kasper (it was already decided beforehand), who is saluted at the opening of the Synod as a point of reference for new doctrine!
I conclude with a smattering of some of the goodies contained in the book, written on the occasion of the election of Benedict XVI in 2005, attesting to the will of a group of ecclesiastics to make war on him, which they then proceeded to do for the next 8 years: Ratzinger, in addition to being accused of "pro-Nazism," "homophobia" and "sexphobia" (today by contrast those in power are sex maniacs), he is accused of "Masonic phobia" (what role does the Masonic current of Cdl. Achille Silvestrini [1923–2019] play in the Church today?), of being attached to his armchair (he proved this accusation wrong by resigning), of opposing unions between homosexual persons (by contrast, Bergoglio has never said anything about the 2016 Cirinnà law [recognizing same-sex unions in Italy] or gay marriage being legalized in Ireland and Germany), of having shot down poor Cdl. McCarrick for giving Communion to a pro-abortion candidate ...
The book concludes with a quotation from Leonardo Boff, whom today we know as one of Bergoglio's close friends: "the election of Benedict XVI will be a scourge for the entire Church," because he is guided in his defense of doctrine "by a cruel logic that is without mercy."
The mild, cultured, defenseless Benedict was thus a pope "without mercy." And now, with the grim, vindictive, some say heretical Bergoglio in charge, we are living in the time of "mercy." But more and more Catholics are hoping that this time will end as soon as possible ...
Translated by Giuseppe Pellegrino. Originally published at Marco Tosatti's website.