The M+G+R Foundation

Reasons to be skeptical of Benedict XVI's words and deeds

By Lee Penn

Originally published in November 2008

Note: In a separate document, you can find the INTRODUCTION by The M+G+R Foundation

For many conservative Catholics, the reign of Benedict XVI (formerly Joseph Ratzinger) has been “just what the doctor ordered”. Some critics, however, call him the AntiChrist. (1) To assess who he might be and where he might be leading the Catholic faithful, let us examine Ratzinger’s record. By this means, the truth (whatever it may be) will stand out.

Benedict XVI has allowed wider use of the Tridentine Mass, is overseeing a gradual and tradition-oriented reorientation of the post-Vatican II liturgy, and wears Pontifical finery that has been rarely seen in public since Vatican II.  Additionally, Ratzinger is installing bishops who thunder against abortion and homosexuality, and who are reasserting the Church’s traditional claim to offer an authoritative public voice on morality. These actions, together with Benedict’s voluminous writings, have proven to be chicken soup for the conservative Catholic soul.


Is there more to Benedict XVI than meets the eye? Could it be that we are dealing with someone who talks like a lamb... but is acting as a dragon? (Revelation 13:11).

•  Pontifical popularity: Right, Center, and Left
•  Abusive clergy and corrupt bishops: words, not deeds
•  High-level Vatican jobs for cover-up bishops continue under Ratzinger
•  Cardinal William Joseph Levada
•  Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke
•  Cardinal Edward Michael Egan
•  Cardinal Roger Michael Mahony
•  Cardinal Bernard Francis Law
•  Malfeasance as usual worldwide: corruption, cover-up, and complicity in abuse
•  In Australia
•  In Italy
•  In the United States
•  Hollow theology
•  Blasting atheism – without seeing the reasons for its spread
•  Accusing God for the crimes of mankind
•  Offering acceptance of suffering, not healing, to the sick
•  Upholding the value of Church wealth and defending Church property
•  Doublethink on materialism
•  Ratzinger and Opus Dei
•  In summary: let the listeners beware!
•  NOTES / Bibliography

Pontifical popularity: Right, Center, and Left

Despite lacking the rock-star charisma of Pope John Paul II, Benedict has consistently drawn large audiences, in Rome and elsewhere. When he visited the US in April 2008, Americans thronged to see him. As one New Yorker told the Wall Street Journal, “I don’t care what it costs... To a real Catholic, it’s the closest thing to God you’re going to get.” (2) After the visit, a Legionary of Christ priest writing for the National Catholic Register said,

“From the welcoming ceremony at the White House to the Youth Rally in New York, Benedict XVI drew tremendous, overflowing crowds. And their size was matched by their enthusiasm. The thousands of priests and religious who gathered with him in St. Patrick’s Cathedral gushed with three separate standing ovations and deafening applause that went on, and on, and on. The U.N. General Assembly gave him a standing ovation. The 20,000 young people who squeezed onto the rally lawn at Dunwoodie cheered so loudly and so often that the elderly Pope spent more time grinning than talking.” (3)

Liberals, too, are falling for the discreet charms of Ratzinger. The dissident Catholic theologian Richard McBrien said that he preferred Benedict XVI to John Paul II because of their different personal style: “Benedict tends to be laid-back and self-effacing, in contrast to John Paul II who usually occupied center stage.”  (4)

Ratzinger’s supporters hail him as a good Pope; others, who claim to see through duplicity and propaganda, call Ratzinger a mitred wolf, vested in sheep’s clothing. In any case, there are many reasons why Catholics —and others— ought to view Ratzinger’s deeds and words with skepticism.


Abusive clergy and corrupt bishops: words, not deeds

While visiting the US (5) and Australia (6) this year, Ratzinger gained some public relations points when he repeatedly apologized for the “sexual abuse of minors” by Catholic priests. With these statements, and by meeting privately with a few American victims of clergy abuse, Ratzinger spoke more directly and incisively about the abuse scandal than Pope John Paul II had done.


Ratzinger’s words failed to get at the root of the scandal. Throughout his American and Australian travels, he treated the abuse scandal as a problem of the past, something that bishops were now handling correctly. His statements addressed only the sexual abuse of minors; he said nothing of clerical fornication (heterosexual and homosexual) with adults. Nor did Ratzinger apologize for the policy —long practiced worldwide by bishops and heads of religious orders— of cover-up, transfer of offenders to new hunting grounds, and stonewalling victims (until or unless the press or secular courts intervened).

Fr. Thomas Doyle, a priest and canon lawyer who has been an advocate for abuse victims since the 1980s, is skeptical of the depth of Benedict’s change of heart.  Last spring, he told an Australian radio interviewer that Benedict

“sidestepped the very hurtful, destructive reaction of a number of Vatican officials over the years. He sidestepped the responsibility of the Papacy and the official Vatican reaction as well, and he certainly did not even get into the responsibility of the bishops in this country and other countries for enabling abusers, for lying about it, for re-victimising the victims. ... The major problem not only in this country, but in other countries... has been the lack of adequate and responsible response by the bishops.” (7)

From 2005 onward, Ratzinger has apologized for the Church’s role in the abuse scandal – but he is late to get a clue. As recently as December 2002, Ratzinger had said,

“I am personally convinced that the constant presence in the press of the sins of Catholic priests, especially in the United States, is a planned campaign, as the percentage of these offenses among priests is not higher than in other categories, and perhaps it is even lower. ...  Less than 1% of priests are guilty of acts of this type. ... Therefore, one comes to the conclusion that it is intentional, manipulated, that there is a desire to discredit the Church.” (8)

Reality soon intervened.  A research report issued in early 2004 at the behest of the Catholic bishops in the US found that 4% of Catholic priests serving since 1950 in the US have been accused of sexually molesting minors. (9)


High-level Vatican jobs for cover-up bishops continue under Ratzinger

Far from punishing the bishops who have been part of the scandal cover-up, Benedict (like John Paul II) has left some of the worst offenders in powerful, prestigious posts at the Vatican. Consider the following:

•  Cardinal William Joseph Levada

Cardinal William Joseph Levada was appointed by Ratzinger to be the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in May 2005, within a month of Ratzinger’s election. Levada is also President of the International Theological Commission, and President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. (10) His other Curial assignments include the Congregation for Bishops, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. (11) Previously, Levada had been made Archbishop twice by John Paul II, starting with Portland in 1986, and proceeding to San Francisco in 1995. In 1987, Ratzinger selected Levada to be one of the seven bishops to edit the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, and Levada prepared the glossary for the second edition of this Catechism. (12) As such, Levada is —and long has been— a key figure in Ratzinger’s Church.


Levada has been hip-deep in the cover-up. (13) For example: in 1997, an assisting priest in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, Fr. Conley, discovered that his pastor, Fr. Aylward, was “wrestling” with a teenage boy in the parish rectory. When Conley reported this to the police and to the Archdiocese, Levada transferred Aylward to another parish – and blackballed Conley as a troublemaker. The Archdiocese upheld Aylward’s innocence, until Aylward’s victim won a $750,000 settlement. Fr. Conley then sued the Archdiocese for wrongfully punishing him, and won a generous out-of-court settlement. Nevertheless, Levada has said during a deposition hearing that he would not have called the police if he had seen the same molestation that Conley witnessed.

Saints may leave trails of glory, but Levada left San Francisco for Rome trailing multiple subpoenas, demanding his testimony on his administration of the Archdiocese of Portland – which was bankrupted in 2004 to pay the bills for priestly sodomy. The Cardinal accepts no responsibility for the financial collapse, and blames the bankruptcy on the greed of victims’ attorneys. When a process server attempted to give him a subpoena before the Archbishop’s final Mass at the Cathedral in August 2005, Levada tried to dodge her (as he had done since May of that year), and called the server “a disgrace to the Church”. He only accepted the subpoena when he was told that otherwise, the process server would deliver papers to the Archbishop at the altar. Such is the character of the man chosen by Ratzinger to guard the integrity of the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church.

•  Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke

Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke was appointed in June 2008 by Ratzinger to be the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the equivalent of the Supreme Court for the Roman Catholic Church. (Only Benedict himself has a higher judicial authority in the Church structure.) Burke was appointed by John Paul II to be Bishop of LaCrosse, Wisconsin in 1994, and was the Archbishop of St. Louis from 2003 till his recent promotion. (14) In 2008, Ratzinger appointed Burke to three additional Vatican bodies: the Congregation for the Clergy, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, which interprets canon law, (15) and the Commission for Advocates, the Vatican equivalent of a bar association for canon lawyers. (16) In August 2008, Burke —who has taken the lead in denying Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians— told Catholic News Service that “At this point the Democratic Party risks transforming itself definitely into a ‘party of death’ because of its choices on bioethical questions.” (17)


Burke’s zeal for the vulnerable does not extend to those out of the womb. The Riverfront Times, a St. Louis paper, noted that few accusations of abuse had surfaced in Burke’s LaCrosse diocese as of 2004 – but stated that this reflected his skill in

“keeping a lid on them. Several victims who claim they were abused by priests in La Crosse tell Riverfront Times they were stonewalled by Burke, who declined to report their allegations to local authorities. And while some of his fellow church officials nationwide were reaching hefty settlements with victims, Raymond Burke was unyielding in his refusal to negotiate with victims’ rights groups. He declined to make public the names of priests who were known to have been abusive, and he denied requests to set up a victims’ fund. Most strikingly, Riverfront Times has learned, while bishop in La Crosse Burke allowed at least three priests to remain clerics in good standing long after allegations of their sexual misconduct had been proven – to the church, to the courts and, finally, to Burke himself. His critics say Burke’s ability to conceal the diocese’s dirty laundry was abetted by Wisconsin’s unique civil code, which makes it virtually impossible for someone to sue the church for the actions of an individual priest.

«He stands with his fellow bishops in Wisconsin as having had the ability to just rebuke and ignore our victims», says Jeff Anderson, an attorney in St. Paul, Minnesota, who specializes in clergy abuse cases. «He has a long history of making pastoral statements that they care, that they want to heal, that they want to help. They are very long on words, but very short on actions.»

«We don’t exist, for him», seconds Peter Isely, a Wisconsin leader of the national Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). «Loyalty to the church is of the highest order for him, and his response to victims» claims has been lethargic and slow and reluctant and bureaucratic and impersonal.’

Then again, if success is measured in money saved and avoidance of scandal, Raymond Burke possesses a sterling record. At a time when dioceses are reaching million-dollar settlements with individual victims and filing for bankruptcy, Burke reported in January 2004 that between 1950 and 2002 the Diocese of La Crosse paid out a grand total of $15,807.38 to victims seeking counseling for clergy sexual abuse.” (18)

•  Cardinal Edward Michael Egan

Cardinal Edward Michael Egan had been appointed by John Paul II as Bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1988. Egan was then elevated to Archbishop of New York in 2000, and became a Cardinal in 2001. (19) In 2002, John Paul II made Egan a member of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican court now headed by Cardinal Burke. (20)

Although the Vatican has thus honored Egan’s judgment...

As bishop of Bridgeport, Egan had allowed priests to remain in their posts after they were accused of molestation; his disciplinary acts were tardy, while his dealing with victims was harsh. (21) Fr. Raymond Pcolka remained on the job until 1992, although at least a dozen boys and girls —some as young as age 7— had complained since 1966 that Pcolka had beaten them and forced them into oral and anal sex. Egan’s tolerance of Pcolka ran out in 1992 when the priest refused orders to remain at a treatment center, where he had been sent after a new accuser came forward.

Fr. Laurence Brett also benefited from Egan’s tolerance for several years – even though Brett had accumulated victims since 1964, when a boy complained that the priest bit his genitals during oral sex. Brett was accustomed to tell his victims that fellatio was “the way Christian men receive communion”. As the Dallas Morning News reported in 2002, Egan had “met Father Brett and endorsed him for continued ministry”. Egan had written in 1990 that “all things considered, he [Brett] made a good impression. In the course of our conversation, the particulars of his case came out in detail and with grace.” After further accusations, Egan suspended Brett in 1993, and Brett went into hiding – where he remains.

When victims’ families sued, Egan fought back as long as possible, and endeavored –successfully– to prevent public disclosure of diocesan files on accused priests. As investigator Leon Podles noted, “Egan never met with victims or apologized to them. By the end of 2003, the diocese of Bridgeport had agreed to pay out $40 million in damages.”

•  Cardinal Roger Michael Mahony

Cardinal Roger Michael Mahony received his red hat in 1991 from John Paul II, who had elevated him to Archbishop of Los Angeles in 1985, after a five-year term as Bishop of Stockton, California. (22) He is a member of two Curial departments, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (since 1989), and the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See (since 2000). (23)


On Mahony’s watch, in Stockton and in Los Angeles, more than 30 of his current and former priests have faced abuse charges; Mahony has done as much as possible to delay investigations and to keep incriminating documents from public view. (24) It is also clear, from the public record, that Mahony kept known molester-priests on the job after receiving multiple, documented accusations of abuse. One priest, Fr. Michael Baker, had admitted to the cardinal in 1986 that he had molested boys; he was kept on the job, in several parishes, until 2000. Mahony approved a confidential $1.3 million settlement with two of Father Baker’s victims who say they were abused as recently as 1999. Mahony had allowed Fr. G. Neville Rucker to remain in the ministry until 2002, despite abuse allegations dating from 1967 onward, accusations that led to an out-of-court settlement of a 1993 lawsuit. Father Rucker’s alleged victims included 9-year-old girls.

In the early 1980s, Mahony moved the Fr. Oliver O’Grady to various parishes in the Diocese of Stockton. During a civil trial, the cardinal said he didn’t know about Father O’Grady’s abuse, but his testimony was contradicted by a psychiatrist he had hired to evaluate the priest. Father O’Grady was later sent to prison.

In 2007, Mahony agreed to a $660 million settlement with 508 victims of clergy abuse from the 1940s to the 1990s. The settlement means that Mahony was not required to testify in court, under oath, about the policies and practices of the Dioceses that he has administered.

•  Cardinal Bernard Francis Law

Cardinal Bernard Francis Law had been made Archbishop of Boston by John Paul II in 1984, a post he held till his scandal-driven resignation in December 2002. (25) Law was made a Cardinal in 1985; he holds that rank still. Since May 2004, Law has been Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome – the oldest basilica dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God. Despite his public disgrace, he still holds his posts in the Curia, including the Congregation of Bishops, the Congregation of the Clergy, and 6 other departments of the Vatican bureaucracy. (26) Law participated in writing the first draft of the English version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, oversaw the US program to receive Episcopal Church priests into the Catholic Church, and has been an outspoken opponent of abortion (and of the liberal Catholic politicians who support this practice).


Along with the forms and words of orthodoxy, Law manifested cruel indifference to the victims of clergy sexual abuse. (27) In 1992, when the Boston Globe publicized the crimes of James Porter, a defrocked pedophile priest who had been in the Diocese of Fall River, Mass., during the 1960s, Cardinal Law invoked “God” against the paper:

“The papers like to focus on the faults of a few. We deplore that. By all means we call down God’s power on the media, particularly the Globe.”

During the 1990s, Cardinal Law and his aides helped Fr. Paul Shanley get assignments in other dioceses, despite Shanley’s public advocacy of sex between men and boys, and despite psychiatric reports that Shanley was dangerous. When Shanley was forced into retirement in 1996, Law thanked him in writing:

“For thirty years in assigned ministry you brought God’s word and his love to his people, and I know that continues to be your goal despite some difficult limitations... You are truly appreciated for all you have done.”

Fr. John Geoghan, a repetitive molester who has since been murdered in prison, received multiple reassignments from Cardinal Law until the early 1990s. In late 1996, Law granted Geoghan early retirement, and wrote to him,

“Yours has been an effective life of ministry, sadly impaired by illness. On behalf of those you served well, and in my own name, I would like to thank you.”

In 1998, Cardinal Law assigned Fr. Ronald Paquin to a hospital chaplaincy, even though the Archdiocese had already made settlements with some of the boys whom Paquin was accused of molesting. In 2002, Paquin went to prison, leaving behind a trail of victims, including one suicide.

For the Archdiocese, the buggery bill includes a $127 million in settlement with abuse victims (as of mid-2005), (28) the closure of 65 parishes, the suicide of several victims, and the loss of Faith by untold numbers of Catholics. And the man who oversaw this devastation keeps his red hat and his influential posts in Rome.


Malfeasance as usual worldwide: corruption, cover-up, and complicity in abuse

Meanwhile —despite the lessons that ought to have been learned from the 2002 revelations of Church scandal in the US— the church hierarchy worldwide continues its business-as-usual handling of clerical sex offenses. As a small sample:

In Australia

In Australia, Cardinal George Pell —much beloved by the Vatican and by conservative Catholics for his loyalty to the papal Magisterium— wrote in February 2003 to Anthony Jones, an adult victim of priestly rape, that his accusations could not be true because the Church had received no other sexual assault complaints against the alleged offender. (29) The same day, Cardinal Pell wrote another letter to another victim of the same priest, accepting his claim that he had been assaulted as a boy by Fr. Terence Goodall. The two letters came to light due to civil and criminal suits, and Fr. Goodall was convicted in 2005 of indecent assault against Jones. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Jones says that Pell’s deceitful denial

“destroyed my faith. Ripped it to pieces. I now hate Catholicism because of what Cardinal Pell has done to me.”

In Italy

In Italy, a husband recently came home and found his parish priest in bed with his wife. He at once complained to his bishop, Angelo Daniel of the Diocese of Chioggia. The prelate’s response was to send the adulterous priest to another parish for “re-education”. Mirroring the indulgence shown in the past by American bishops to priestly pederasts, Bishop Daniel said,

“I have always respected the priest in question and I will continue to respect him. You cannot discount all the good a person has done in their life just because of one mistake.” (30)

In the United States

In the United States, a suspended Connecticut priest is on the run, out of state, dodging civil charges of molesting young men. Nevertheless, Fr. Stephen Foley is still getting a $1,000 per month stipend from the Archdiocese of Hartford, as well as health insurance coverage. The Archdiocese denies that it is responsible for ordering Foley to return to face trial. Church spokesman John Gatzak said,

“He is not a slave. The archdiocese doesn’t own him. The legal system has more control over him. ... If the legal system can’t get him to do what he is supposed to do, you can’t expect the archdiocese to do it.” (31)

Catholic journalist Leon Podles asks, with good reason: “Pope Benedict has apologized for priests who abuse; when will he apologize for and remove bishops who lie?” (32) If liar-bishops were purged, the next Synod of Bishops could be held in a single hotel room in Rome. Humanly speaking, this cleansing will not occur in the foreseeable future. Business as usual continues: Bishops get pushed into early retirement (while keeping their episcopal rank) only when they themselves are accused of sexual misconduct, (33) or if they commit an indiscretion such as killing a pedestrian in a hit-run accident. (34) And no matter what they do, modern-day Cardinals keep their red hats.

All of these problems could be corrected with decisive Papal leadership – and without disturbing an iota of orthodox Catholic doctrine and dogma. But instead of using the “full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church” (35) that the Vatican claims for the Holy See, Ratzinger —like his predecessors— seems content to let bishops and cardinals rest on the laurels of their corruption – secure from hardship and serious censure, let alone defrocking or excommunication.


Hollow theology

Since taking office, Ratzinger has issued a torrent of books and homilies upholding what appear —at first glance— to be Christian ideals. However, on closer inspection, his statements do not adequately set forth the teachings of the Gospel, and do not address the gap between the promises of Christ and the worldly reality that the Church (as an organization) has delivered.

Blasting atheism – without seeing the reasons for its spread

In a homily given on October 5 at a Mass inaugurating a global, month-long synod of Roman Catholic bishops, Ratzinger denounced irreligious modern culture, the spread of atheism, and human arrogance. He said,

“Today, nations once rich in faith and vocations are losing their own identity, under the harmful and destructive influence of a certain modern culture. There are those that, having decided that ‘God is dead’, declare themselves ‘god’, believing themselves to be the only creator of their own fate, the absolute owner of the world. Ridding himself of God and not awaiting His salvation, Man believes he can do as he likes and be the only judge of himself and his actions. ... When men proclaim themselves absolute owners of themselves and the only masters of creation, are they really going to be able to construct a society where freedom, justice and peace reign? Is it not more likely —as demonstrated by news headlines every day— that the arbitrary rule of power, selfish interests, injustice and exploitation, and violence in all its forms will extend their grip?” (36)

Ratzinger’s concern is focused on the de-Christianization of Europe. As a Scottish newspaper reported, “between 1994 and 2003, Mass attendances [in Scotland] fell from 250,000 to 194,728. Earlier this year the Vatican also reported a dramatic fall in the number of Roman Catholic monks and nuns.”  (37)

The same debacle has befallen the Catholic Church in the US. As Catholic journalist Philip Lawler reports,

“In 1958, a Gallup poll showed that three out of four American Catholics attended Sunday Mass regularly; by 2000 the figure was closer to one out of four. With Mass attendance as the leading indicator, every other statistical index of Catholic practice and belief showed a similar decline between 1960 and 2000. Nearly half of the Catholic elementary and high schools in the United States closed. The number of Catholic marriages solemnized in churches fell by over 30 percent, while the number of marriages annulled by diocesan tribunals skyrocketed from about three hundred a year to nearly 50,000. The number of priests fell by about 20 percent, while the number of ordinations dropped by 65 percent. Two-thirds of the country’s seminaries closed. Teaching nuns, who has once formed the backbone of the massive Catholic education system, nearly disappeared. The total number of women religious fell by over 50 percent, but the teaching orders suffered a dizzying decline, from 104,000 in 1965 to about 8,000 today.” (38)


•  It is darkly ironic for a prelate who claims infallibility and who is the final earthly authority in a billion-person Church to denounce those whose atheism leads them to claim that they can do what they like without answering to higher authority.

•  As for Ratzinger’s denunciation of those who proudly call themselves “absolute owner of the world”: he seems to have forgotten the bull Unam Sanctam, issued in 1302 by Pope Boniface VIII. This claim of plenary power for the Papacy is still reverently quoted by Catholic traditionalists, and has never been formally repudiated by the Church as an error:

“it belongs to spiritual power to establish the terrestrial power and to pass judgment if it has not been good. ... Therefore, if the terrestrial power err, it will be judged by the spiritual power; but if a minor spiritual power err, it will be judged by a superior spiritual power; but if the highest power of all err, it can be judged only by God, and not by man... This authority, however, (though it has been given to man and is exercised by man), is not human but rather divine, granted to Peter by a divine word and reaffirmed to him (Peter) and his successors by the One Whom Peter confessed... Therefore whoever resists this power thus ordained by God, resists the ordinance of God... Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” (39)

•  Ratzinger’s concern about the de-Christianization of the West comes very late in the game, and points to an easy identification of scapegoats – and is an evasion of the Church’s own responsibility for the loss of Faith. Those who heard and agreed with his homily might blame the cultural revolutionaries of the 1960s (and the “God is dead” theologians of the same era, a generation ago).

-  However, the weakening of Faith in the West goes back centuries. The French Revolution of 1789, the victories of Napoleon, the fall of the Papal States to the Italian insurgents in the 1860s, the anticlerical governments of France and Portugal in the early 1900s, the Russian Revolution, and the Spanish Civil War all show mass revulsion against the alliance of Throne and Altar that had prevailed in Europe since the age of Constantine.

-  In the midst of the Victorian era, long before open gays, militant feminists, Leninists, legal abortionists, genetic engineers, suicide doctors, and atheist theologians entered the public square, the English poet Matthew Arnold was (accurately) lamenting:

“The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.” (40)
“Dover Beach” (1857)

-  And after World War I, the English poet Thomas Hardy described the lamentable fruit of Europe’s failed, fratricidal Christendom:

“‘Peace upon Earth’ was said.  We sing it
And pay a million priests to bring it.
After two thousand years of mass
We’ve got as far as poison gas.” (41)
Thomas Hardy, “Christmas 1924”

All of this, contra Ratzinger, occurred long before the cultural revolution of the 1960s.

•  The collapse of Catholicism’s infrastructure and the decline of Catholic practice amongst the laity since 1960 are obvious realities. But sound buildings on solid foundations do not implode, as the Roman Catholic Church has done over the last generation. Ratzinger laments the modern-day devastation of Catholic faith – but does not address why clergy and laity have fled as soon as they felt free to do so.


Accusing God for the crimes of mankind

On May 28, 2006, Benedict XVI visited the concentration camp at Auschwitz, and accused God of silence in the face of great evil:

“In a place like this, words fail; in the end, there can only be a dread silence – a silence which is itself a heartfelt cry to God: Why, Lord, did you remain silent?  How could you tolerate all this?” (42)

Later in his homily, he added,

“We cannot peer into God’s mysterious plan – we see only piecemeal, and we would be wrong to set ourselves up as judges of God and history.  Then we would not be defending man, but only contributing to his downfall.  No – when all is said and done, we must continue to cry out humbly yet insistently to God: Rouse yourself!  Do not forget mankind, your creature! ... Let us cry out to God, with all our hearts, at the present hour, when new misfortunes befall us, when all the forces of darkness seem to issue anew from human hearts: whether it is the abuse of God’s name as a means of justifying senseless violence against innocent persons, or the cynicism which refuses to acknowledge God and ridicules faith in him.”

Ratzinger said that he came to the camp to fulfill

“a duty before God, for me to come here as the successor of Pope John Paul II and as a son of the German people – a son of that people over which a ring of criminals rose to power by false promises of future greatness and the recovery of the nation’s honour, prominence and prosperity, but also through terror and intimidation, with the result that our people was used and abused as an instrument of their thirst for destruction and power. ... By destroying Israel, by the Shoah, they ultimately wanted to tear up the taproot of the Christian faith and to replace it with a faith of their own invention: faith in the rule of man, the rule of the powerful.”


•  When Ratzinger condemned God for “silence” in the face of Auschwitz, he ought instead to have held up a mirror to the Church hierarchy.

-  No Divine command or authority ever commanded or approved the crimes of the Nazis. All such teaching —from the Noahide laws (Genesis 9:1-7) to the Ten Commandments to the Sermon on the Mount— spoke against such deeds.

-  The guilt of the Church hierarchy for the events leading to the Holocaust runs deep, a responsibility that Ratzinger does not acknowledge. (43) Organized exclusion of Jews from the economic mainstream, pogroms, ethnic cleansing, and scurrilous propaganda were all carried out with ecclesiastical approval in Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox lands alike, during the 1,500 years before the Nazis came to power. All of these traditions and precedents proved useful to the Nazis as they set up their own terror-state. It was the secular liberalism derived [from] the Enlightenment —not [from] “orthodox” Catholicism— that won the Jews a reprieve from organized oppression, during the 1815-1914 era.

-  The response of the Church to Nazism was inconsistent, in Germany and in Rome. Pius XI issued an eloquent anti-Nazi encyclical in 1937, and Pius XII sheltered tens of thousands of Jews from deportation. However, the Pope remained officially neutral throughout World War II, even though the Nazis started the war with the rape of Catholic Poland. The hierarchy could not find its voice to publicly condemn the Holocaust during the war. Far from excommunicating Nazis or from releasing Germans from their obligation to obey their regime, Catholic hierarchs in Germany gave thanks for Hitler’s survival of assassination attempts, rang church bells to celebrate the Nazi victories over Poland and France, and explicitly supported the Nazi invasions of Poland and the USSR (44) – the events that were the necessary precondition for the Holocaust. And after the war, Vatican staff helped Nazi war criminals escape to South America.

-  Fr. Alfred Delp, a Jesuit priest imprisoned —and later executed— by the Nazis for resisting the regime wrote from his cell,

“At some future date the honest historian will have some bitter things to say about the contribution of the Churches to the creation of the mass mind, of collectivism, of dictatorship, and so on.”  (45)

Rather than blaming God for the Holocaust, Ratzinger ought to have fully owned up to his own Church’s culpability.

•  Ratzinger’s implicit demand was that God ought to have directly intervened to destroy the Nazi terror machine. But that would have been a miracle more massive than any seen since the earthly ministry of Christ – and even Christ “could do no mighty work” in his home town of Nazareth, due to the unbelief of the people (Mark 6:5-6). How much less was the faith in Europe in the Nazi era, among the Church hierarchs as well among the masses!

•  Ratzinger went as far as he could to minimize the culpability of the German nation for Nazism and the Holocaust, saying that the Nazis beguiled the people with

“false promises of future greatness and the recovery of the nation’s honour, prominence and prosperity, but also through terror and intimidation, with the result that our people was used and abused.”

Let the conservative Catholic historian (and Holocaust survivor) John Lukacs set the record straight:

“In the Third Reich, the majority gave not only its passive but its active consent to the Führer.” (46)


Offering acceptance of suffering, not healing, to the sick

On September 15, Benedict celebrated the Mass with a crowd of pilgrims who had come to Lourdes in search of healing. His homily emphasized the acceptance of suffering, and the value of suffering in the Christian life. Ratzinger said,

“Unfortunately we know only too well: the endurance of suffering can upset life’s most stable equilibrium, it can shake the firmest foundations of confidence, and sometimes even leads people to despair of the meaning and value of life. There are struggles that we cannot sustain alone, without the help of divine grace. ... I would like to say, humbly, to those who suffer and to those who struggle and are tempted to turn their backs on life: turn towards Mary! Within the smile of the Virgin lies mysteriously hidden the strength to fight against sickness, in support of life. With her, equally, is found the grace to accept without fear or bitterness to leave this world at the hour chosen by God. ... Christ imparts his salvation by means of the sacraments, and especially in the case of those suffering from sickness or disability, by means of the grace of the sacrament of the sick. For each individual, suffering is always something alien. It can never be tamed. That is why it is hard to bear, and harder still —as certain great witnesses of Christ’s holiness have done— to welcome it as a significant element in our vocation, or to accept, as Bernadette expressed it, to «suffer everything in silence in order to please Jesus»... The grace of this sacrament consists in welcoming Christ the healer into ourselves. However, Christ is not a healer in the manner of the world. In order to heal us, he does not remain outside the suffering that is experienced; he eases it by coming to dwell within the one stricken by illness, to bear it and live it with him. Christ’s presence comes to break the isolation which pain induces.” (47)


•  Ratzinger told his audience to welcome suffering as “a significant element in our vocation”, and to “bear it and live it” with Christ, and to “accept without fear or bitterness to leave this world at the hour chosen by God”. This is Stoicism, not Christianity. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus healed the sick, freed the possessed, and raised the dead – and throughout the book of Acts, His followers did the same. Christ demonstrated that those who needed healing should ask for it with faith (their own, or supplied by those who brought the sufferer to Christ’s attention); He did not say that the first response should be to “bear it and live with it”.

•  Ratzinger’s homily has one virtue: honesty. He knows that he cannot heal, and that healing is a rarity for those who seek the ministry of the Church that he manages. Therefore, Ratzinger does not promise what he cannot deliver. Inability to heal the sick is —at least in part— the result of lack of faith on the part of the minister (Matthew 17:19-20). Many Protestants —including the Pentecostal “holy rollers”— have more faith than Ratzinger in the healing power of God, and bear more fruit.

Ratzinger seems to be preaching a discreet, upper-class version of the dispiriting “Gospel” that the American Catholic novelist Flannery O’Connor described in her story Wise Blood. Haze, a mad itinerant preacher, told all who would listen,

“I preach the Church Without Christ. I’m member and preacher to that church where the blind don’t see and the lame don’t walk and what’s dead stays that way.” (48)

•  This problem —the practical replacement of a healing Gospel with the dreary gospel of accepting suffering— is of long standing.

-  Immediately after the first Pentecost, Peter encountered a man who had been lame from birth. The crippled man sought alms, but Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Peter explained to the astonished crowd, “the faith which is through Jesus has given this man this perfect health in the presence of you all.” (Acts 3:1-16) As a result, even though the Temple priests and the Sadducees arrested Peter and his companions, “many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to about five thousand”. (Acts 4:1-4) This is how preaching is supposed to work, on the Scriptural model.

-  By the Middle Ages, this healing power —and the Faith that made it possible— was gone. A legend of an encounter between St. Francis and Pope Innocent III sums up the fateful choice that the Church’s leaders had made from Constantine onward – and the spiritual results of this choice.

“While Francis of Assisi (1181 - 1226) was trying to secure the approval of Pope Innocent III (1198 - 1216) for his apostolate of poverty to ‘Repair My Church’ as God had asked Francis to do, the following scenario is claimed to have taken place: After showing Francis the riches amassed by the Church, Pope Innocent III said: «You see, the Church can no longer say: ‘Gold and silver have I none.’» [Acts 3:6] To what Francis replied: «True, and neither can she any longer say: ‘...rise and walk.’» [Acts 3:6]” (49)


Upholding the value of Church wealth and defending Church property

In a September meeting with diplomats from the Czech Republic, Benedict upheld the value to society of Church diplomacy and Church wealth (he called it “stewardship”). (50) Ratzinger said,

“Hope is indeed the timeless message which the Church offers to every generation, and it prompts her to participate in the global task of forging bonds of peace and goodwill among all peoples. ... She does this in a special way by her diplomatic activity, through which she extols the dignity of persons as destined for a life of communion with God and with one another.”

He added,

“all of society benefits when the Church is afforded the right to exercise stewardship over the material and spiritual goods required for her ministry.”

Ratzinger bemoaned the continued dispute over the ownership of the St. Vitus Cathedral, a 14th-Century structure that has been under government ownership since 1954; it was nationalized under the Stalinist regime. The Church and the government have been locked in a court battle over possession of the Cathedral since 1992. (51) Ratzinger said that the Cathedral

“stands as a living witness to the rich cultural and religious heritage of your land, and testifies to the harmonious coexistence of Church and state.”


Ratzinger’s apologetics for the Church ring hollow, given the present conditions in the Czech Republic, and given the Church’s checkered history there.

•  As the Zenit story itself notes, a 2001 census of the Republic’s 10.2 million citizens found that 59% were “unaffiliated with any religion;” only 26% said that they were Catholic, and 2% were Protestant. Since Catholicism is a minority religion in the Czech Republic, it is not immediately obvious why the Church should own the Cathedral now. It is a structure that is as much a monument to the nation (two of its principal attractions are the tombs of the Bohemian kings, and the crown jewels) as it is a place of worship.

•  Ratzinger’s reference to the “harmonious coexistence of church and state” in the Czech Republic overlooks the history of Jan Hus and his followers. (52) Hus sought the reform of the Church, and protested the greed and worldliness of its prelates and priests. The Church hierarchs detected heresy, and Hus was burned at the stake in 1415. (He had been lured to the Council of Constance with a promise by the Holy Roman Emperor of safe conduct, but the authorities reneged on this and tried Hus as a heretic, with the acquiescence of the king who had promised safety to Hus.) The execution led to schism and civil war in Bohemia, events that foreshadowed the Reformation and the Wars of Religion a century afterward. Czechs hail Hus as a national hero.


Doublethink on materialism

In a recent homily, Benedict denounced modern-day idolatry – including materialism, devotion to an idealized past, and worship of a presumably utopian future. During his September visit to France, Ratzinger said that St. Paul’s appeal to shun idols (1 Cor. 10:14-22)

“is also pertinent today. Has not our modern world created its own idols? Has it not imitated, perhaps inadvertently, the pagans of antiquity, by diverting man from his true end, from the joy of living eternally with God? ... The word ‘idol’ comes from the Greek and means ‘image’, ‘figure’, ‘representation’, but also ‘ghost’, ‘phantom’, ‘vain appearance’. An idol is a delusion, for it turns its worshipper away from reality and places him in the kingdom of mere appearances. Now, is this not a temptation in our own day – the only one we can act upon effectively? The temptation to idolize a past that no longer exists, forgetting its shortcomings; the temptation to idolize a future which does not yet exist, in the belief that, by his efforts alone, man can bring about the kingdom of eternal joy on earth! Saint Paul explains to the Colossians that insatiable greed is a form of idolatry... and he reminds his disciple Timothy that love of money is the root of all evil. ... Have not money, the thirst for possessions, for power and even for knowledge, diverted man from his true destiny?” (53)

As a follow-up, amidst the chaos of the global financial crisis, Benedict addressed the global synod of Catholic bishops on October 7, contrasting the solidity of the Word of God and the transience of worldly goods. He said,

“We must change our notion that matter, solid things, things we can touch, is the most solid, the most certain reality. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord speaks to us about the two possible foundations for building the house of one’s life: sand and rock. He who builds on sand only builds on visible and tangible things, on success, on career, on money. ... But all this one day will vanish. We can see this now with the fall of two large banks: this money disappears, it is nothing. And thus all things, which seem to be the true realities we can count on, are only realities of a secondary order. Who builds his life on these realities, on matter, on success, on appearances, builds upon sand. Only the Word of God is the foundation of all reality, it is as stable as the heavens and more than the heavens, it is reality. Therefore, we must change our concept of realism. The realist is he who recognizes the Word of God, in this apparently weak reality, as the foundation of all things.” (54)

And meanwhile...

The Diocese of Regensburg, in southern Germany, plans to spend 100,000 Euros in mid-January 2009 for an 85th birthday celebration at the Vatican for Ratzinger’s older brother, a priest. (55)


•  While Ratzinger denounces materialism, the Holy See is a successful player in international financial markets. (56) It relies on income and capital gains from a 1.4 billion Euro endowment – the value of their stocks, bonds, real estate, and gold as of the end of 2007. (At today’s exchange rate, this is almost $1.9 billion). The Tablet, a British Catholic paper, reports that

“the Vatican’s financial advisers shrewdly spotted the risks of keeping the Church’s money tied up in shares and switched to safer investments, including gold. The Holy See owns almost a ton of gold which in today’s volatile market would be worth some £15 million”, (57)

or almost $30 million. In addition, there are direct donations to the Holy See from Catholics, “Peter’s Pence”, which totaled about $80 million in 2007. The largest donor countries were the US and Italy. Also, the city-state of the Vatican “makes a few million a year” – to say nothing of the income and assets of the Vatican Bank. It seems that the Vatican is living by the maxim stated by the late, scandal-plagued Vatican banker and archbishop Paul Marcinkus, who said, “You can’t run the Church on Hail Marys.”

•  From the beginning, the Scriptures warned against the lure of money for the Church, and for churchmen. And for centuries, these warnings have been ignored.

-  Paul’s first letter to Timothy warned against church members who seek wealth:

“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:9-10)

-  Aspiring bishops were to be “not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money”. (1 Timothy 3:3) All of this is quite a contrast to the ecclesiastical lords and warrior-Popes of later times.

-  In his apocalyptic vision, St. John recorded this warning from Christ to the rich, worldly church in Laodicea:

“For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.” (Revelation 3:17-18)

-  If any Church failed to repent, and devoted itself to wealth and power, it would become like the harlot that John saw:

“The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and bedecked with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her fornication; and on her forehead was written a name of mystery: «Babylon the great, mother of harlots and of earth’s abominations»”, (Revelation 17:4-5), a prostitute whom God’s judgment will bring low in “one hour” (Revelation 18:10).

Now, Catholic cathedrals and pontiffs are “bedecked with gold”, while a ton of gold sits in the Vatican vaults. Is this prophecy coming to pass?

•  From Constantine onward, the Church made its fatal bargain with the World; within a century of its legalization, it had become wealthy, and used the power of the Empire to persecute heretics. (58) Long before the Reformation, medieval writers (orthodox Catholics, no less!) saw first-hand what the results of this deal were.

-  During the 1370s, in the popular English tale Piers the Ploughman, William Langland lamented,

“For when Constantine endowed the Church so generously, and gave it lands and vassals, estates and incomes, an angel was heard to cry in the air over the city of Rome, saying «This day the wealth of the Church is poisoned, and those who have Peter’s power have drunk venom.»” (59)

-  In his poem The Divine Comedy, Dante told a tale in the early 1300s of his soul’s travel through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. While going downward through Hell, Dante encountered those guilty of simony, the sale of Church office for money; they were punished by being buried upside down in rock cisterns, with the feet aflame in eternal fire. Dante wrote of three Popes who were already punished there (or soon would be): Nicholas III (1277-1280), Boniface VIII (1294-1303), and Clement V (1305-1314). When he encountered the tormented shade of Nicholas III, Dante denounced the corruption of the Church:

“Your avarice afflicts the world, trampling the good and raising up the wicked. Of you shepherds the Evangelist took note, when he saw her who sits upon the waters whoring with the kings... You have made gold and silver your god, and what difference is there between you and the idol-worshipper, except that he prays to one, and you pray to a hundred? Ah Constantine, not your conversion, but that dowry which the first rich father took from you, has been the mother of so much evil!” (60)

Both authors condemned the effects of the Donation of Constantine, an 8th-Century Vatican forgery that was used to bolster the Papal claims to wealth and temporal power. (61) The forgery was exposed in the 1400s, but the same spirit of greed and lust for power still animates today’s hierarchs.


Ratzinger and Opus Dei

Opus Dei is a right-wing cult (62) within the Catholic Church, a movement oriented toward power, money, and a worldly, politicized form of religion. (63) The conservative historian Michael Burleigh, a specialist in the history of secular-messianic religious and political movements, sums up the Opus Dei world view thus:

“It combined the authoritarianism of Pius IX with a concern for the bottom line that would not have embarrassed Henry Ford.” (64)

Benedict has long been close to this movement, before and after his April 2005 election. He had gotten an honorary doctorate from the Opus Dei-run University of Navarre in 1998. (65)

A post-Conclave report indicates that Opus Dei support was critical to Ratzinger’s election in 2005:

“According to aides to two non-American cardinals, Ratzinger entered the conclave with significant backing: Julian Herranz of Spain, head of the Vatican’s department for interpreting legislative texts; Dario Castrillon Hoyos of Colombia, head of the department in charge of the clergy; and Alfonso Lopez Trujillo of Colombia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family. All three have ties to the conservative renewal movement Opus Dei.” (66)

Two months before the Conclave, Sandro Magister (an orthodox Catholic reporter on Vatican affairs) had predicted this outcome:

“the Opus Dei cardinal most active in view of the conclave is Julián Herranz... the President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. Ratzinger’s leap to the top of the list of candidates for the papacy is also due to him; it took shape at the suppers for cardinals that Herranz organized at Opus Dei’s heavily guarded villa in the Roman countryside.” (67)

Magister ended his February 2005 article thus: “Ratzinger chose Wojtyla in 1978. His choice will be decisive again this time.” (68) And “this time”, the election fell to Ratzinger.

As it was under John Paul II, Opus Dei remains prominent in Ratzinger’s inner circle. Ratzinger’s personal secretary is a Bavarian priest and expert on canon law, Georg Gänswein. (69)   He has been on Ratzinger’s staff since 1996, and has been his personal secretary since 2003.   Until 2005, Gänswein taught at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, the Opus Dei university in Rome, (70) although he is not a member of the movement. (71)  As of mid-2005, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith included three Opus Dei advisors, one of whom (Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz) is the movement’s vicar-general, its second in command. (72) Ocáriz was one of the principal authors of Dominus Iesus, (73) the document issued in 2000 that reasserted the supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church. (74)

On September 14, 2005 —the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, a solemn Catholic remembrance of the Cross as the sign of Christ’s victory— Benedict XVI blessed a 16-foot statue of Escrivá that has been placed in a niche on the outside wall of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. (75)  The statue bears coats of arms for John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and joins the 400 saints’ statues that are already at the Basilica. (76)

As Benedict began, so he continues; the star of Opus Dei continues its ascent over the Vatican. During his long reign, John Paul II had raised 19 Opus Dei members to the episcopate; in his three-and-a-half years, Benedict has added two more (one is a diocesan bishop in Argentina, and the other is the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts). (77) Several books —one hostile to Opus Dei, and the other supportive— list the Opus Dei-affiliated members of the Vatican bureaucracy as of 2006-2007, early in the reign of Benedict XVI. The lists remain long, as they were in the latter years of Pope John Paul II. (78)   


In summary: let the listeners beware!

Joseph Ratzinger talks a good game, and plays his part well on the world stage. Nevertheless, let the audience beware! It just might be that this prelate is indeed talking as a lamb... and acting like a dragon.

Pay close attention to Benedict’s words to his Cardinals, given on the day after his election. He said that during

“the death and funeral of the late John Paul II... the whole world looked to him with trust. To many it seemed that this intense participation, amplified by the media to reach the very ends of the planet, was like a unanimous appeal for help addressed to the Pope by today’s humanity which, upset by uncertainties and fears, was questioning itself on its future.” (79)

Ratzinger put himself forward as the one to answer that “unanimous appeal for help”, by reason of what he described as his divinely ordained election:

“Although the weight of responsibility laid on my own poor shoulders is enormous, there is no doubt that the divine power on which I can count is boundless: «You are ‘Peter’, and on this rock I will build my Church» (Mt 16:18). In choosing me as Bishop of Rome, the Lord wanted me to be his Vicar, he wanted me to be the ‘rock’ on which we can all safely stand.” (80)

Benedict plans a high-profile role for himself, and since the start of his reign has had a “mouth speaking great things” (Daniel 7:8). In this instance, the one who looks like a shepherd clothed in white just might be a wolf.


NOTES / Bibliography

(1) The M+G+R Foundation, “The Manifestation of the AntiChrist”, June 4, 2006,, viewed 10/15/08; The M+G+R Foundation, “The Manifestation of the AntiChrist: Post Publication Letters/Questions”, July 7, 2006,, viewed 10/15/08; Jay Nelson, “Why The Pope Is To Blame For the Sex Scandals”,, viewed 10/15/08. Nelson is a survivor of clergy abuse.

(2) Suzanne Sataline, “In First U.S. Visit, Pope Benedict Has Mass Appeal”, The Wall Street Journal, April 16, 2008,, viewed 10/09/08.

(3) Fr. John Bartunek, “Benedict’s Secret”, National Catholic Register, April 22, 2008,, viewed 10/09/08.

(4) Thomas Fox, “Theologian says one-issue bishops violate their own teaching”, National Catholic Reporter, October 7, 2008,, viewed 10/09/08.

(5) The Vatican, “Interview Of The Holy Father Benedict XVI During The Flight To The United States Of America”, April 15, 2008,, viewed 10/09/08; Vatican, “Address Of His Holiness Benedict XVI, National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, 16 April 2008”,, viewed 10/09/08; Vatican, “Homily Of His Holiness Benedict XVI, Washington Nationals Stadium, Thursday, 17 April 2008”,, viewed 10/09/08.

(6) Rohan Sullivan, “Pope ‘sorry’ for child abuse by Australian clergy”,, July 20, 2008,, viewed 10/09/08.

(7) ABC Radio National (Australia), “The Pope in America”, interview with Fr. Tom Doyle, April 23, 2008,, viewed 10/09/08.

(8) Zenit News Agency, “Cardinal Ratzinger Sees a Media Campaign Against Church”, December 3, 2002,, viewed 10/18/08.

(9) Agostino Bono, “John Jay Study Reveals Extent of Abuse Problem”, Catholic News Service,, viewed 10/18/08.

(10) Catholic Hierarchy, “William Joseph Cardinal Levada”,, viewed 10/10/08.

(11) Wikipedia, “William Levada”,, viewed 10/13/08.

(12) Wikipedia, “William Levada”,, viewed 10/13/08.

(13) Information in this paragraph (and the one following) is from Leon J. Podles, Sacrilege, Crossland Press, 2008, pp. 405-407; Brooks Egerton and Reese Dunklin, “Special Reports: Catholic Bishops and Sex Abuse”, Dallas Morning News, entry for Archbishop William Levada, June 2002,, viewed 10/13/08; Lee Penn, “San Francisco Archbishop William Levada’s Hidden Record”, August 2005,, viewed 10/13/08.

(14) Catholic Hierarchy, “Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke”,, viewed 10/13/08.

(15) Wikipedia, “Raymond Leo Burke”,, viewed 10/13/08.

(16) Catholic News Agency, “Archbishop Burke appointed to head Vatican’s ‘bar association’”, October 8, 2008,, viewed 10/13/08.

(17) Cynthia Wooden, “U.S. archbishop at Vatican says Democrats becoming ‘party of death’”, Catholic News Service, September 29, 2008,, viewed 10/13/08.

(18) Malcolm Gay, “Immaculate Deception: Some Dirty Little Secrets Followed Archbishop Raymond Burke from Wisconsin to St. Louis”, Riverfront Times, August 25, 2004,, viewed 10/14/08.

(19) Catholic Hierarchy, “Edward Michael Cardinal Egan”,, viewed 10/10/08.

(20) Wikipedia, “Edward Egan”,, viewed 10/14/08.

(21) Information in this paragraph (and the two following) is from Leon J. Podles, Sacrilege, Crossland Press, 2008, pp. 189-193; Brooks Egerton and Reese Dunklin, “Special Reports: Catholic Bishops and Sex Abuse”, Dallas Morning News, entry for Cardinal Edward Egan, June 2002,, viewed 10/14/08.

(22) Catholic Hierarchy, “Roger Michael Cardinal Mahony”,, viewed 10/10/08.

(23) Wikipedia, “Roger Mahony”,, viewed 10/14/08.

(24) Information in this paragraph (and the two following) is from Leon J. Podles, Sacrilege, Crossland Press, 2008, pp. 143, 217, 219,221-225, 424; Brooks Egerton and Reese Dunklin, “Special Reports: Catholic Bishops and Sex Abuse”, Dallas Morning News, entry for Cardinal Roger Mahony, June 2002,, viewed 10/14/08; Wikipedia, “Roger Mahony”,, viewed 10/14/08.

(25) Catholic Hierarchy, “Bernard Francis Cardinal Law”,, viewed 10/10/08.

(26) Leon J. Podles, Sacrilege, Crossland Press, 2008, pp. 510, 610 (note 38); Wikipedia, “Bernard Francis Law”,, viewed 10/14/08.

(27) Information in this paragraph (and the four following) is from Leon J. Podles, Sacrilege, Crossland Press, 2008, pp. 123, 149-153, 163-169, 172-177, 180, 193-195, 283, 403; Brooks Egerton and Reese Dunklin, “Special Reports: Catholic Bishops and Sex Abuse”, Dallas Morning News, entry for Cardinal Bernard Law, June 2002,, viewed 10/14/08; Wikipedia, “Bernard Francis Law”,, viewed 10/14/08.

(28) Archdiocese of Boston, “Financial Disclosure of the Archdiocese of Boston Regarding Sexual Abuse Settlements And Related Costs”, April 19, 2006,, viewed 10/15/08.

(29) Information in this paragraph is from Conor Duffy and Tim Palmer, “Exclusive documents reveal church ignored abuse allegations”, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, July 7, 2008,, viewed 10/09/08.

(30) Nick Pisa, “Italian man catches wife in bed with priest”,, September 14, 2008,, viewed 10/10/08.

(31) Dave Altimari, “Priest Linked To Abuse Cases Ordered To Return To State”, Hartford Courant, October 7, 2008,,0,6756006.story, viewed 10/10/08.

(32) Leon J. Podles, “Lying Bishops and Tangled Webs”, web log post, July 7, 2008,, viewed 10/09/08.

(33) Bishop Accountability, “U. S. Bishops Accused of Abuse”,, viewed 10/10/08.

(34) Anabelle Garay, “Convicted bishop halfway through community service”, Associated Press, December 24, 2004,, viewed 10/10/08.

(35) Catechism of the Catholic Church, section 882, which refers to Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, section 22.

(36) Zenit, “Benedict XVI’s Homily at Synod’s Inaugural Mass”, October 6, 2006,, viewed 10/17/08.

(37) Lyndsay Moss, “Pope: Millions are losing their religion and declaring God is dead”,, October 6, 2008,, viewed 10/16/08.

(38) Philip F. Lawler, The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston’s Catholic Culture, Encounter Books, 2008, p. 73.

(39) Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam, 1302, English translation from, viewed 10/21/08.

(40) Matthew Arnold, “Dover Beach”, 1857,, viewed 10/21/08.

(41) Thomas Hardy, “Christmas 1924”,, viewed 10/27/08.

(42) Benedict XVI, “Address By The Holy Father: Visit To The Auschwitz Camp”, May 28, 2006,, viewed 10/17/08.

(43) For background and details, see Eamon Duffy, Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes, Yale University Press, 3rd ed., 2006, pp. 340-343, 346-350; Michael Burleigh, The Third Reich: A New History, Hill and Wang, 2001 ed., pp. 71, 153-154, 220-221, 489, 718-724.

(44) John Lukacs, The Last European War: September 1939/December 1941, Yale University Press, 2001 ed., pp. 463, 464 (note 25).

(45) John Lukacs, The Last European War: September 1939/December 1941, Yale University Press, 2001 ed., pp. 469-470.

(46) John Lukacs, The Hitler of History, Vintage Books, 1998, p. 111.

(47) Zenit, “Papal Homily at Mass With Sick”, September 15, 2008,, viewed 10/17/08.

(48) Flannery O’Connor, “Wise Blood”, ch. 6, in Collected Works, The Library of America, 1988, p. 59.

(49) The M+G+R Foundation, “What went wrong with the Roman Catholic Church?”,, viewed 10/22/08.

(50) Zenit, “Pope: Religious Liberty Is a Win-Win Situation”, September 28, 2008,, viewed 10/18/08.

(51) CTK News Agency, “Czech Catholic Church again seeks St. Vitus Cathedral ownership”, September 2, 2008,, viewed 10/23/08.

(52) Eamon Duffy, Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes, Yale University Press, 3rd ed., 2006, p. 172; Brian Moynahan, The Faith: A History of Christianity, Doubleday, 2002, pp. 308-323.

(53) Benedict XVI, official translation of the homily given at Mass at the Esplanade des Invalides, September 13, 2008,, viewed 10/18/08.

(54) Zenit, “Pope’s Reflection at Synod on Word of God”, unofficial Vatican translation , October 7, 2008,, viewed 10/18/08.

(55) AFP, “100,000-euro birthday bash for pope's brother: report”, 10/26/08,, viewed 10/27/08.

(56) Flavia Krause-Jackson, “Pope Says Credit Crunch Shows Money Is ‘Nothing’”,, October 7, 2008,, viewed 10/18/08; David Gibson, “The Vatican’s ‘Midas Touch’”,, September 26, 2008,, viewed 10/18/08.

(57) David Gibson, “The Vatican’s ‘Midas Touch’”,, September 26, 2008,, viewed 10/18/08.

(58) Paul Johnson, “From Martyrs to Inquisitors: AD 250-450”, in History of Christianity, Simon & Schuster, 1976, pp. 67-122.

(59) William Langland, Piers the Ploughman, Penguin Books, 1959, p. 194.

(60) Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Vol. 1 (Inferno), trans. by Robert M. Durling, Oxford University Press, 1996, pp. 293, 295 (Canto 19, lines 103-117).

(61) For details on the Donation of Constantine, see these documents from The M+G+R Foundation: “On the Forgery of the Alleged Donation of Constantine – Summary”,; “On the Forgery of the Alleged Donation of Constantine - Details”,; “On the Forgery of the Alleged Donation of Constantine: A Confirming Critique of Lorenzo Valla's Discourse”,; viewed 10/24/08.

(62) For definitions of “sect” and “cult”, and the applicability of these terms to Opus Dei, see: The M+G+R Foundation, “The Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei: A Sect Or A Cult?”,, viewed 10/25/08.

(63) For details on Opus Dei, see: Lee Penn, “Opus Dei and the da Vinci Code”, part 1, Journal of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, fall 2005,, viewed 10/26/08; Lee Penn, “Opus Dei and the da Vinci Code”, part 2, Journal of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, spring 2006,, viewed 10/26/08; The M+G+R Foundation, “Index of Documents Regarding The Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei” (a comprehensive list of articles on this Catholic site pertaining to Opus Dei),, viewed 10/26/08.

(64) Michael Burleigh, Sacred Causes: The Clash of Religion and Politics From the Great War to the War on Terror, Harper Collins, 2007, p. 366.

(65) John L. Allen, Opus Dei: An Objective Look Behind the Myths and Reality of the Most Controversial Force in the Catholic Church, Doubleday, 2005, p. 240.

(66) Paul Wilkes, “When in Rome”, BeliefNet, April 20, 2005,, viewed 10/18/08.

(67) Sandro Magister, “Lent in the Vatican: The Pope, the Curia, and the Conclave”, www.chiesa, February 11, 2005,, viewed 10/21/08.

(68) Magister, “Lent in the Vatican”, cited above.

(69) Paul Badde, “Georg Gänswein: Soul- & Bodyguard”, Inside the Vatican, July 2005, p. 38.

(70) Sandro Magister, “The First Three Months of Benedict XVI: New Pope, New Style”, www.Chiesa, July 15, 2005,, viewed 10/21/08.

(71) John Allen, “The Word From Rome”, National Catholic Reporter, July 15, 2005,, viewed 10/21/08.

(72) John Allen, “The Word From Rome”, July 15, 2005, cited above.

(73) John L. Allen, Opus Dei: An Objective Look Behind the Myths and Reality of the Most Controversial Force in the Catholic Church, Doubleday, 2005, p. 240.

(74) For an orthodox criticism of this document, see The M+G+R Foundation, “The Failed Roman Catholic Church Evangelization Effort”,, viewed 10/27/08.

(75) Catholic World News, “Pope Will Return To Rome On September 28”, August 31, 2005,, viewed 10/21/08.

(76) Information Office of Opus Dei on the Internet, “Pope blesses statue of Saint Josemaría at Saint Peter’s Basilica”, 09/14/05,, viewed 10/21/08.

(77) Catholic Hierarchy, “Personal Prelature of Opus Dei”,, viewed 10/27/08.

(78) Robert Hutchison, Their Kingdom Come: Inside the Secret World of Opus Dei, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2006 ed., pp. 438-442; John L. Allen, Opus Dei: An Objective Look Behind the Myths and Reality of the Most Controversial Force in the Catholic Church, Doubleday, 2005, pp. 244-255.

(79) Benedict XVI, “First Message Of His Holiness Benedict XVI At The End Of The Eucharistic Concelebration With The Members Of The College Of Cardinals In The Sistine Chapel”, April 20, 2005, section 6,, viewed 10/19/08.

(80) Benedict XVI, “First Message”, cited above, section 2.


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Published on November 1, 2008 - All Saints Day - European Union • Adapted to HTML format on April 20, 2023

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