This assessment of Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate by the well-known and respected Spanish theologian Juan José Tamayo is brutal. -- RG
by Juan José Tamayo (English translation by Rebel Girl)
For Pope Benedict XVI, elected five years ago, absolute rule has not proved difficult. The Pope has received almost unanimous support from cardinals, archbishops, bishops and the Roman curia, and almost total silence from the few dissenting church leaders.
This was precisely the strategy designed jointly by John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger and followed by the latter during the five years of his pontificate: to replace the progressive bishops with bishops of a conservative, and in some cases, fundamentalist bent.
The criteria for episcopal appointments have been faithfulness to doctrine, obedience to the Pope, and observance of liturgical form.
Where are the gospel exemplariness, the option for the poor, the struggle for justice, and church reform advocated by Vatican II?
The long-awaited and necessary reform of the Curia has been reduced to a series of changes that have further strengthened centralism and the conservative orientation of the Catholic Church.
The appointment of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone as Vatican Secretary of State is a good example of the cloning of Pope Benedict XVI himself in the authoritarian government of the Church, in the ideological reproduction of his thinking, in the harsh concept of dogma and ritualistic litugical practices.
Benedict XVI has surrounded himself with a praetorian guard that gives him a distorted view of reality and tries to protect him from criticism not only from the secular world but from within the Catholic Church itself.
This is the same guard, for example, that instead of recognizing the serious criminal nature of the pedophilia cases among priests and religious, and helping the pope to take effective measures to eradicate such practices, dares to say that the very act of bringing them to light is part of a perfectly orchestrated anti-clerical campaign by secularist sectors, hatred and persecution of the Church and the desire to discredit and undermine the prestige of the Pope.
But the praetorians don't worry about the suffering of the victims and even less about bringing the abusers, who are the real butchers, to court. By this attitude, what they are doing is protecting the perpetrators.
The Pope has around himself a bunch of intellectually mediocre advisers, who are morally reprehensible and ignorant, or worse, distorters of history, which says very little about the much-vaunted intellectual prestige of Joseph Ratzinger. Two examples serve as evidence of this:
One is the preacher who, during Holy Week, compared the Pope's suffering from the criticism he has received due to the sex abuse cases with the Holocaust.
The other, Cardinal Bertone, number two at the Vatican and Benedict XVI's right hand man since his days at the CDF who, with the intention of demonizing homosexuals, has linked homosexuality with pedophilia while, in order to defend the anachronistic and unfounded imposition of celibacy on priests, has denied any relationship between it and the sexual abuse of some priests.
With consultants and collaborators such as these, it's not surprising that the spokesman for the Church devotes more time to drawing away from foolish things and nonsensical opinions than to providing objective information about the activities of the Vatican.
Benedict XVI has regressed many centuries, but not to the time of Jesus at Lake Tiberias or to the origins of Christianity, nor to the medieval prophetic movements, but rather to the Counter Reformation Council of Trent (1545-1563) and the First Vatican Council (1870), which defined the dogma of the infallibility of the Pope. His pastoral point of reference for his pontificate has not been the tolerant figure of John XXIII, or even the Hamlet-like attitude of Paul VI, but the decidedly anti-modernist behavior of Pius X.
The result? Vatican II held hostage, theology gagged, a walled-in church that protects itself from imaginary opponents -- in short, a "trampled vineyard", as Benedict XVI himself would say, not by non-existent secularizing "wild boars", but by many believers and church leaders who have squandered the liberating ethical legacy of Jesus of Nazareth and replaced it with a neo-liberal theology of the market. The solution? It is not in my hands. We must think together. It will be the subject of another article.